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Saturday, August 8, 2009

George Steiner on Academia

Tenure in the academy today, the approval of one's professional peers, the assistance and laurels in their giving, are not infrequently symptoms of opportunism and mediocre conventionality. A degree of exclusion, of compelled apartness, may be one of the conditions of valid work. Scientific research and advance are in substantial measure and logic collaborative. In the humanities, in the disciplines of intuitive discourse, committees, colloquia, the conference circuit are the bane. Nothing is more ludicrous than the roll-call of academic colleagues and sponsors set out in grateful footnotes at the bottom of trivia. In poetics, in philosophy, in hermeneutics, work worth doing will more often than not be produced against the grain and in marginality.

--George Steiner, AFTER BABEL, "Preface to the Second Edition, ix"

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Jake Wright said...

Well said, those who stand in line for accolades neither deserve nor warrant the credit they so seek. Einstein didn't buy a black board to sketch a facsimile of his Doctorate.

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