Friday, April 27, 2012


   So, Mr. M'Choakumchild began in his best manner. He and some one hundred and forty other schoolmasters, had been lately turned at the same time, in the same factory, on the same principles, like so many pianoforte legs. He had been put through an immense variety of paces, and had answered volumes of head-breaking questions. Orthography, etymology, syntax, and prosody, biography, astronomy, geography, and general cosmography, the sciences of compound proportion, algebra, land-surveying and levelling, vocal music, and drawing from models, were all at the ends of his ten chilled fingers. He had worked his stony way into Her Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council's Schedule B, and had taken the bloom off the higher branches of mathematics and physical science, French, German, Latin, and Greek. He knew all about all the Water Sheds of all the world (whatever they are), and all the histories of all the peoples, and all the names of all the rivers and mountains, and all the productions, manners, and customs of all the countries, and all their boundaries and bearings on the two and thirty points of the compass. Ah, rather overdone, M'Choakumchild. If he had only learnt a little less, how infinitely better he might have taught much more! 

Technocracy ever encroaching's roots can be seen in the Industrial Revolution, in Hard Times of previous eras. Learning for learning's sake, to have a greater pool of beauty to draw from and a deeper understanding inducing wonder. Not everything is empirical, whether one believes in higher powers or greater forces or not, there are some things like the way that song makes your heart yearn that just cannot be explained by anyone.

And so in academia, I see people who've bought into these systems, paid with their lives and their souls and their cash, only to come up empty and unfulfilled, yet trying so hard to justify their points of view, but the spillover of ideology, of broken systems both capitalistic and socialistic, of relationships burned out by a lack of love compensated for by the pursuit of knowledge as a means and lucre as an end.

  No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in the moon before it could speak distinctly. No little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, Twinkle, twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are! No little Gradgrind had ever known wonder on the subject, each little Gradgrind having at five years old dissected the Great Bear like a Professor Owen, and driven Charles's Wain like a locomotive engine-driver. No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with the crumpled horn who tossed the dog who worried the cat who killed the rat who ate the malt, or with that yet more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb: it had never heard of those celebrities, and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous ruminating quadruped with several stomachs. 

Someone told me that he doesn't want to talk to his children, that he sent them to the best colleges so that they could have intelligent conversation, not to "gossip" about the minutiae of their daily lives, or to talk about their dealings with other people. While it's true that small minds discuss people (and this is born out by the particularly small-minded among us), most of our daily interactions and greatest joys and stresses come from our human interactions. We are not receptacles of potentially economically useful data, we are living breathing souls that interact with other souls more or less. I might talk about politics and music with my dad or books with my mom but I also talk about the daily crap of dealing with siblings and colleagues and friends, because that's just as much the stuff of life as facts facts facts.

What's said is that it seems when one reaches a certain age, barring some life-altering experience bordering on the spiritual or otherwise revelatory, there is no way this outlook will change regardless of the damage it has doubtless already caused.


  1. Your stuff is so much better than my stuff. I hope that was economically useful to you, and not mere gossip.

  2. it's going to get much worse as the governors are starting to focus on turning state schools into training/research facilities for local businesses, as for curiosity/care that is lost to most and perhaps impossible to teach.

  3. everything here is definitely going the way of science and technocracy at the expense of the creativity and critical thought, and even then, it's so cookie cutter, it hardly seems worth bothering.