Why I think academia is irrelevant

academia

I may be a university student, but I have no real respect for academia. To be frank, I went to university with the full knowledge that I will gain something out of it. Since I do an art course, I’m mainly talking about the contextual studies module, which if you’re preparing to go to uni yourself, you should now this that this is the dry and academic part of your course. I frankly dislike academia, mainly because I see it as stingy and old fashioned, particularly when it comes down to research.

To be clear, they’re okay with you using Internet sources as long as you don’t just use a random blog as a source (incidentally, please don’t use this site as a source for your dissertation, I’m not liable for your carelessness), but they seem to be insistent that you mostly use books. That isn’t necessarily the worst of my problems, but it seems to me like they have no faith in a student’s ability to discern truth from misinformation on the Internet. The only real argument I’ve heard against using online sources is that there might be misinformation.

More to the point, they seem to be the kind of people who have the attitude of either you write the way we want you to, or you fail, and I can say this because I have actually discussed this with a member of staff working at the university, and we basically came to that conclusion looking at the kind of writing language you’re required to use. They’ll tell you its supposed to be about objectivity, but really it seems to me like you’re part of the Borg. Not even a shred of your own individuality is allowed in your writing at all, and yet I’ve heard that certain lecturers recommend that you write your dissertation with emotive, persuasive language. That sounds like they’re in favour of narrative crafting, the total opposite of objectivity.

To me, that’s the biggest problem I have with academia, that it’s stuck in its old and entrenched ways, refusing to change with the times. The most revolutionary aspect of the age of information has been the fact that now anyone who can use the internet has access to any kind of knowledge they want, and they don’t even have to go to university and go into debt to do it. The people in academia hate that. They have long been the ivory tower gatekeepers of information in the days before the information age, and now that the internet has brought about the free flow of information to the public, academia is left unable to stem the flow.

Of course, academia is one the core components of the reigning establishment (the others being the government, the media, and the cultural elite). Their gripes are the same as those of the rest of establishment at large – they are becoming irrelevant, and they can’t stand that. It doesn’t help that they cling to the ideology of cultural Marxism, that postmodern, neo-Marxist nonsense which you can easily use the Internet to disprove if you have at least two brain cells, a cursory knowledge of philosophy, and/or internet connection. If anything, this seems to be making academia (and academics) even more irrelevant and out of touch with the rest of society.

Those at least are my observations. I haven’t necessarily been in university for very long, but I get the sense that I don’t fit in well with academic culture. The way I see it, the kind of academic language taught in university isn’t going to be worth much when you get out of university and try to enter the job market, which as I speak is so oversaturated with degree-holding graduates that I dare say degrees will one day become worthless. All that debt for nothing I guess, and yet I’m supposed to have respect for the irrelevant spectre that is academic culture, which will offer nothing of worth to me unless I plan to become a teacher and/or a professor, thereby entrapping myself within the education system. It seems to me like an outdated system. Instead of encouraging young people to go to university, I think it would be best to encourage them to develop vocational skills and enter the job market. If anything, it may yet be more profitable for the next generation than locking them into the old, outdated academic culture that will continue to fail them in the long run.

Believing the lecturer (a rant)

listen and believe

So I had an interesting conversation with some of my classmates, wherein I talked about the contents of a previous lecture, in which the lecturer, attempting to explain the 50’s mystique, read from an article entitled “Only a Mad Woman would call the 50s a golden age”, which sort of implied that the nostalgic, rose-tinted view of the 50’s is a recent phenomenon attributable to the TV show Mad Men. That didn’t sound right at all. I know that’s bullshit, because I used to watch the 70’s sitcom Happy Days, a show that uncritically exonerates the 50’s is this golden decade in which nothing went wrong.

When I actually researched the article, I found out that this was lifted from The Daily Mail (I checked word for word, and it was the correct one), a tabloid newspaper with about as much credibility as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The article itself was written by Liz Hodgkinson, a noted feminist who writes for the Femail column (the UK equivalent of Jezebel that’s somehow part of a fervently right-wing paper).

In the same lecture, we were treated to the first episode of a 2002 BBC documentary entitled “Century of the Self”, which was made by Adam Curtis, a glorified conspiracy theorist who apparently has a reputation for manipulative film-making tactics designed to hand-hold you towards his conclusion. The central assertion is that modern consumer culture is essentially the product of Edward Bernays and the ideas of the Freud family. Even if it was largely factual, it was exquisite propaganda, and had the tendency to imply rather bold claims that could easily be debunked. For instance, one part of the film implied that Edward Bernays was responsible for getting women to smoke, which Curtis would be successful in having you believe if you’re a moron. A quick google search will yield several photos and/or illustrations that show women smoking (I found an image dating back to 1906).

Anyways, after I explained this (in greater detail, I just condensed it in this post so I could get to the point), one of my classmates apparently told me that I should just listen to whatever the lecturer has to say, with weak arguments such as “how many degrees do I have” or “how long have I been in art”. None of those questions were even fucking relevant. My argument is that you should take what a lecturer says with at least some scepticism. You should be critically analysing what you’ve been taught, but apparently he disagrees. He thought I should basically sponge up what the lecturer says without thinking about it. Effectively, he argued that I should accept academic dogma uncritically. Gee, where have I heard this before?

anita sarkeesian

There is a very good reason I don’t just sit there and accept what the lecturer has to say unless I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s factual. As I’ve written about several times on this site, you have crazy left-wing ideologues who constantly lie about sexism, racism, so-called Islamophobia, and they run rampant on the mainstream media. Such ideologues are also found in academia, in the form of far-left academics who preach Marxism and social justice as if it were gospel. As we have seen over the past few years, we know that Marxist lecturers have been using their position to indoctrinate young people into the cult of social justice, and if that’s true, how can I not be sceptical of what they’re saying?

Besides, people forget that this “listen and believe” attitude isn’t just limited to leftists. The conservative Christians also pulled this crap too when Bush Jr. was President, or did everyone forget? In fact, you get this mentality from any brand of authoritarian ideology. Given that you get at least some Marxism in every university, I have to be sceptical of what I’m taught. Failing to be sceptical would be a dereliction of every value I hold dear.

The other reason I can’t accept such a proposition is because if you apply that logic, it can become dangerous. If you just sponge up everything a lecturer says uncritically, then you can get tricked into believing outright falsehoods such as white privilege, the patriarchy, and so on. Besides, if you’re willing to just listen and believe in the case of lecturers, then why not apply this logic to priests, imams, newsmen and politicians? If you won’t, then you’re not being consistent in your values. If you do, then your naivety will be a con artist’s best friend. After all, a good old confidence trick can only work if you trust the con artist.

I’m not trying to say that all university lecturers are con artists. I’m sure most of them have standards, and I’m certainly not suspecting art teachers, but I’m saying that students should be sceptical of their lecturers, just as they should be sceptical of the media, the politicians, and organised religion. In that sense I’m applying my sceptical principles universally, and believe that everyone else should. Is that really such a bad thing?

The trial of producing a huge art project

For past six months, I’ve been working myself to the bone in producing what is perhaps my biggest art project yet. Simply put it, its a series of books (which I call “visual art albums”) that deal with aspects of Christianity through a more surreal prism of thought. I originally conceived it as a project about world beliefs in general, but I encountered several problems during the research phase of the project, and thus I changed the overall theme of the project.

A lot of my time has been devoted to finishing the project that I started, and so I’d like tonight’s post to talk about what goes on behind the scenes, and offer some insight into the project’s concept, creation, and production.

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Book III (The Houses of God), shown being produced during today’s sessions.

The project was originally titled “Visions”, then I changed the name of the project to “In the Valley of the Shadow of Faith”, and that name ran until last week, when I decided to change its named to “The Shadow Bible” (I name I chose for when it becomes a published book). I have made nine A2 folders, each of which are meant to contain 11 artworks, along with text and additional embellishments across 48 pages per book (as a whole book, this would be 432 pages long). I made it this way because I thought there would be nine units in the second year of my art course. This was eventually proven wrong. There were eight units, and only one could accommodate my project, so I’ve been working on the whole project alongside the other assignments. As you could imagine, it’s been a living hell managing all this.

Much of the project was conceived a few months before production actually started. In May 2015, I began to plan out my ideas, and August, I began making the book folders. Meanwhile, the planning phase of the project, wherein I would organize my various ideas and concepts for the project (at least by name), continued until November. I produced the artwork starting as early as September, but did this sporadically until November 17th, when I began producing artworks almost every day until February 4th, when I had finished all the artworks relevant to the project. The week before was when I finished the first book (or rather the eighth in chronological order), and from then on I began focusing on the books.

Today, I’m on what could be considered the final stages of the project. I had finished all 99 artworks, and so all that’s left is to finish the books, writing for each one along the way. I made the actual artworks as drawings and paintings, experimenting with various mediums. The books are each made using 24 sheets of tropical paper (except for one book which uses metallic paper), with each side displaying either an artwork, the text to go with the artwork, or anything else that I use to fill the remaining pages. The artwork is stuck down to the pages using double-sided tape, and since one roll runs out after around two and a half books, I had to buy it in bulk. Each book can take up to a total 12 hours to produce (which is why I split off production into separate sessions, each lasting up to four hours). The text is written using pencils, and exhibits a style of writing that doesn’t adhere any current precepts of creative writing (mainly because I don’t know any).

For the books, I want to convey narrative with a lyrical style of writing. This is in part due to the fact that I derived the concept of the project from music albums and the booklets that come with them (particularly vinyl records, and especially Christian Death LP’s). In fact, the writing in the project was influenced by the music I listen to on a daily basis. Sadly, this is not a collaborative effort, so I’ve had to do all the production and writing by myself, and I have until May to complete it. I’m on track, but it’s been a long and exhausting road to get to where I am now. It’s also been quite an expensive project. The amount of A2 card I need to finish the project has so far costed me a total of £120, with other costs being incurred in buying new pencils and replacing any paints that have run out. I’d say the project has so far cost me upwards of £300 to produce. Considering that I have no income, I’m lucky that I’m able to afford everything.

Producing “The Shadow Bible” has been quite a trying part of my life, but I feel that the experience has been a test of character. In my opinion, some of my best artworks have emerged from the sessions, and it’s on this project that I’ve actually started visualizing what I might want to produce in my later years. There’s also the prospect of releasing this whole project as a published book (which, according to one of my lecturers, it is entirely possible to do). That sounds like the most exciting prospect in years. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but if it works, who knows what could happen.

Until I start university, I’m certain that this is the hardest project I’ve ever done, but when it’s done, it’ll be one of the most satisfying things I’ve done yet, mainly because of the sheer ambition and scope of the project. Throughout the project, I felt like I was making something nobody else had done before (then again, I’m sure most people have more sense), and I think that’s been keeping me going all this time, that and the fact that I was making something I truly wanted to for the first time in many years. For all its ups and downs, I have high hopes for the project, and if given the chance, I’d do it again (though, hopefully, it’d be a lot shorter).

Education is not a privilege

education cuts

Over the past five years, we’ve witnessed the Tory government and our Prime Minister David Cameron attacking everything that makes people’s lives easier just to keep their rich friends afloat. The government seems to have a particular hatred for education, as evidenced by a checklist of their past atrocities. They’ve been raising tuition fees, making cuts to post-16 and higher education, making cuts to the Disabled Student Allowance, and trying to drop 20th century American novels from the national syllabus. If you thought that our slimy Tory government could sink any lower, then look no further. Their burning hatred of education is extending to student maintenance grants, which they are attempting to scrap without holding any proper debate (probably because they know any real debate wouldn’t end the way they’d like it).

Naturally, the very idea of scrapping student maintenance grants for the poorest students has sparked outrage from students and politicians alike, mainly because only 18 MP’s talked about it, and without any proper debate whatsoever. It is perhaps the single most undemocratic decision our government is making so far, but then, what were we expecting when we nation collectively decided to pardon David Cameron in the last election? We all knew that Cameron was going to screw this country over yet again, and many of us didn’t even want to vote for him, but apparently there was an even greater amount of morons who bought Mr. Cameron’s bullshit at the last minute, and unless something is done, the next generation will pay the price.

I must wonder what our government assumes about us young people. They must assume that higher education is just as much a privilege for us as it must have been for David Cameron and his Eton chums. The reality is that the job market is still horrendously tight. For young people like myself, higher education offers a way of acquiring not just an attractive degree, but also crucial employability skills that are vital for anyone’s professional survival. Hence, for many young people, higher education is not just an attractive prospect, but also a necessity for attaining our various career aspirations. Our parents know this as well, so when they hear about the government’s plans to scrap the maintenance grants for the poorest students, they’ll inevitably worry that this will discourage young people from even considering higher education.

As a Coleg Sir Gar student (who often asks myself what I’m still doing there) hoping to make the big leap to university, I have every reason to worry about this, but what worries me more is that millions of young people could make the same mistake I did when I was 18. I worry that many young people will dismiss higher education purely because of the costs associated with university. If I could go back in time to the year 2012, I’d tell myself not to worry too much about the financial side, because there is help out there for those who need it (providing the government isn’t planning to cut that too).

Thankfully, there is some hope. There’s a petition going around and it already has enough supporters to merit a debate in parliament. The only question is will our voices be heard? Will the petition make impact on overturning an unjust and illogical plan, or will David Cameron’s government attempt to suppress our voice once again? Whatever the outcome, it is important to remember that any attack on higher education risks silencing young voices and crushing young talent, and if we have any hope of rescuing the country from its bleak situation, then the government must consider the importance of young talent, rather than depriving them of what I now accept to be perhaps the best pathway to a career they could hope for.

If you wish to sign the petition, the link is here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/109649

Greedy clowns strike again

While doing some research on my new art course, I came across something that shocked me. It turns out that if you transfer from a level 3 FE course to a level 2 FE course, you can’t get ALG. Apparently the people who run ALG expect students like me to go from level 3 to a higher-level course in order to keep receiving funding.

pound coins

We happen to need that money, so this is basically a massive kick in the balls.

That, to me, is bullshit. Why should I have to suffer just because I made a different choice in life. I think the government simply hates young people and wants us to rot until we’re on our knees, ready to become their little puppets.

The idea is fairly simple. The government knows that going to university is expensive, but their lackeys in the media constantly try and make university or higher education look good, so that nearly every young person will try and get a place, presumably at their parents’ expense. On top of all that, it looks as though ALG is trying to coax 20-year-olds like me into progressing into a higher education by cutting off our funding if we don’t.

The people who run ALG honestly believe that I can’t be coaxed into not doing a lower-level art course by putting money on the line. They honestly believe that I’m a materialistic airhead who thinks money is more important than anything else. I’d rather feel the sting of poverty than betray my principles.

What really pisses me off is that I’ve found a path I’m really going to like, but the big bad government is trying to ruin it for me. If government really can see this site, then I have a message for them. They’re nothing more than a bunch of lying, greedy scumbags who thrive off the misfortune of others, and if any of them are thinking they’re going to get my vote, then they’re as blind as decaying bats.

I also have a message for all the young people. Don’t let anyone, not even the government, use money to coax you into doing something you don’t want to. You’re in charge of your own life, and you have the power to do what you think is best for you. All the universities want to do is persuade you to attend their courses so they can take money from you or your own parents.

Remember, this abhorrent greed will never stop unless we all tell the men behind the curtain that we won’t tolerate it anymore.

Back to art?

During the new term, I’ve been wrapping my head around what to do in September. Then, while I was in bed on Thursday night (this was not a dream, for I wasn’t sleeping yet), I got the idea that I have plenty of ideas that could be wasted if I didn’t act soon. That’s why I’m considering giving art another chance.

art

Pictured: An awesome example of art.

The reason why I abandoned the art path two years ago was because I was heavily disillusioned with my A-level Art course. In that course, I was stuck with a brief that I didn’t like, but I had to do everything according to it. It’s like this with the Creative iMedia course as well, but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be, because I can work around it.

That’s why I want to be careful with this. I don’t want to make the mistake of rushing to judgement, so I want to look at certain art courses. Of course, they may have a brief in mind, but I’m hoping I can find one that’s lenient enough to allow me to allow me to make as many or as little art pieces as I want.

Keep in mind that this is from the perspective of someone who hasn’t done art as a course in two years. I probably don’t even know how it will even turn out. All I really care about is rekindling a passion for art, which is required if I plan to do anything creative in the future.

Why I actually can’t wait to go back to college

On Tuesday, I’ll be heading to college for another 9 and a half months, and I actually can’t wait for it.

You’d think that I wouldn’t want to go back to college, but it’s different to the “back to school jitters” of the old days, because I actually chose to go back there. Besides, I have big plans for the next year, but I’m not going to say anything right now.

Besides, I’m hoping that I can actually get something of a job. Hopefully not too full-on but still.

I think I’ll have a bit of fun in college. I think I’ve mastered college life good enough to handle at least one more year, and I actually liked life in college.

And hey, I should be able to get a few fresh ideas for new topics during my time in college.