True life is elsewhere, but we are in the academy. True life is elsewhere, but the academy is all around us.
When I ask myself about the effects of mass higher education, this first of all: what of those who could have been arists? What of those who could have written otherwise than academic prose? When I see them, the million students, the student-hordes, I ask: what could they have become, given a few years on the dole? Then I know what has been captured: would-be artists and would-be writers. The clever, whom academia is so adept at capturing. The clever can be clever in academia. There are difficult books for them to read, those who are clever. The books will reach them, the clever ones, and have been prepared for them.
Introductory books lead the way, the clever ones. Introductions and critical guides prepare them for the difficult books. So are the clever captured. So do they enter the university they will not leave. And so does affect wither in them. So does intensity drain away. What of those years on the dole that saw bands form in cities like Manchester or Sheffield? What of the dole-culture and those groups who formed because there was nothing to do? Now there is everything to do; everything is interesting. Now there's everything but affect.
If you want to write, enroll on a creative writing course; if you want to make art, there are art-schools and government-funded cultural regeneration schemes. Every region must have its art; every town its government-funded bohemia. Now the artist must paraphrase and explain her work. Now in advance must it be paraphrased and explained. Now must the introduction precede the work and void the work. Now is the day of the explainers and paraphrasers, who make funding bids as artists and create as civil servants. Now they come, the fund-raisers, adept at explaining and introducing their work, their own introducers. M.C. and performer in one; agent and artist in one, one and the same. With the right hand, I create and with the left hand, I introduce what I create.
So is creativity doubled and voided; so is it made to explain and justify itself. On what are you marked in the creative writing programme - on what you have written, or on the reflective commentary you write on what you have written? This is the day of the commenters; this is the day for introductions without risk. Everyone reads everything, everyone knows everything. Knowledge without subject, without object: everyone knows, everything is known. It is known what X. said and Y. said; the introductory book knows for us. Knowledge that is spread everywhere! Knowledge of everything spread everywhere! Nothing need be fought for, nothing won. Nothing need be struggled for, it's already won, the path is prepared in advance.
I've read the introduction, you say, and blink. I've read the critical guide, you say, and blink. You can quotes chunks of X. and Y. and fit them together. You can quote X. and Y. and Z. and spatchcock their work together. X. sits happily with Y. Z. sits happily with X. and Y. Context does not matter and idiom does not matter; what matters is regularity, what matters is the common measure. X., Y., and Z.: you've brought them together in your commentary. You've brought them together in the expression of your creative practice. You've explained yourself; X., Y. and Z. are brought together in your explanation. You've explained yourself via X., Y. and Z. - how marvellous! What labour! What erudtion! Admirable work that passes via X. and Y.and Z.!
The introducer-engineers are coming. Everything must run on tracks of the same gauge. The train of academia must run along a standardised track. Every thinker must fit and every thought must be made to fit. Never mind, the introducers are busy. Never mind, they are working for all of us, for the whole, for the Dyson Sphere of academia as it encloses the sun of creativity. Everything will be enclosed, don't fear; not a chink of light will escape. The academic engineers construct the sphere which will enclose the sun, and upon whose inner surface we will live. Not a scrap of energy must be unaccounted for.
The remark on religion will launch a thousand books on religion. The remark on sovereignty will launch a thousand books on sovereignty. Paraphrase is all; paraphrase and introduction is all. Nothing will be missed; not a scrap will be lost. Negentropic academia! Deniers of drift and randomness! All is caught and the nets are pulled in. Everything is caught, and the nets are pulled in, full of strange fish and creatures of the deep. Out went the nets until every thinker is caught and weighed and measured and then returned to its natural habitat with a tag so we can track them.
We need to follow the great migration of the thinker-beasts; we need to know what depths they plumb. We will not dive or travel; that is what they do, the thinker-beasts upon whom we live. We track them, with our tracking-devices. Not a scrap they write will escape. Not the most occasional of occasional scraps will escape. Every remark will be recorded; every performance videotaped. Truly we will follow them to the ends of the earth! Truly, just as the record companies understand maverick figures as boutique artists who sell to a particular group will we known out thinker-beasts as maverick figures who will appeal to a particular group.
Ah, you're that kind of person, well go and read her. Ah, that's the kind of thing you like, go off and read him. And just as Amazon will tell you what other customers who bought book X. have bought books by Y. and Z. thinker X. will lead to other such thinkers, Y. to Z., until you know the thought of all, until all is grasped and understood and you are part of the work of all, sun-encloser, academic engineer. All is grasped, all understood, and you will do your part to track the movements of another thinker-beast, another ur-theorist upon whom an introduction can be written.
The far sighted and long eared spot them - the new thinker-beasts. There are always more, it seems, always new things to be brought ashore. How profound is the deep! How deep and dark is old Europe! Always new thinkers to be caught! Always the new, one after another, one thinker after another, to be caught and introduced! What sport it is for the far-sighted and the long-eared to spot the new thinker-beasts! And how they rush when one is sighted!
Over here, away from the deep and the dark of old Europe, they become boutique thinkers, these thinker-beasts. They attract experts and expositors; they thought is paraphrased and introduced, and then the next stage of assimilation can occur: application. For the introductions and paraphrases serve the great academic commentary mill, where the oldest books and made new with the newest techniques. So does academia receive fresh blood! So does it come, the blood and meat of these great beasts! The academic whalers carve up the greatest beast! The whalers carve and dissect the greatest carcasses! And then they come, the appliers of thought. Then come those who take thought and apply it elsewhere, the adaptors and engineers of thought.