*It will be a series of very brief reflections on education with no intention of finding a point.
I once again stepped on a University campus to start another undergrad. As I cross the threshold, a guard rests at the entrance gate while a candid, and lazy, pack of stray dogs sleep at the turn of seven o’clock. This will be the third time I attempt to conclude a program. If I succeed it will be the second I finish. After almost one year of complete idleness secluded in my parents’ house it is nice to have in my mind a sentiment of resuming path worth traversing. My body requested me to feed it with works and texts that may or may not find its way into my soul. This time I will try doing it by burning my brain with “grammar rigor mortis”, ancient dead languages and cachaça.
But while I will feel happy because I return to what I know best, a constant set of questions will come back to haunt me in the form of care. In fact, people are already asking me, as they have asked before when I was accepted into Philosophy and Liberal Arts majors:
“What will you do with Classic Studies? No one speaks latin anymore. Do you want to be a professor?”
This is quite true. I am not sure either what I can do, professionally, with Classic Studies. I cannot queue at a Starbucks and say “vellem nulla a magna.”1 I cannot hope that the sweet old lady doing her groceries in the morning will spare me an apple to offer to Mercury, unless she is my former classic literature professor Marie-Rose Logan. I probably cannot refer to Lucretius in a hearing to justify my inability to help someone after a hit and run:
Thou’lt find but properties of those first twain,
Or see but accidents those twain produce.
My education, summing up the almost 10 years I have been enjoying higher education in its “lowest” form, doesn’t provide any benefit to the work force as it is. It would probably be seen as poisonous even in ancient Greece as I would probably be a sophist for that matter. Even if I become a professor who will guide other young people like me towards suitable workstations after listening to my wise words at the top of a stage, I won’t be helping anyone. The understanding of what a university in our times is but a reflection of what a university may have been in the past.
When people ask me what will I do with Classic Studies they are actually asking how will I earn any money. But I could ask the same thing about the people who are earning an income: what will you do with all this financial independence your are harnessing? My inability to provide is equivalent to these people inability to see they are anything but cogs in an irrelevant mechanism.
“Money has lost its narrative quality the way painting did once upon a time. Money is talking to itself.” Said Don DeLillo through one of his characters in Cosmopolis. If we exclusively think about our financial condition we are interpreting the world with a tool that has been redeemed obsolete. But I am not sure if my tool is the correct one either.
So you can graduate in a prestigious engineering school and you can probably work for some famous contractor that will wreck havoc in Fallujah. But you won’t even know what you are doing because you rather not discuss it while drinking some cold light beer in the local pub not a few steps from your beautiful condo. That is the narrative that it has been written.
I do sound bitter when I talk about our workforce because I get angry. I lose my temper because I know I am not very different from the people who earn the big bucks out of the flawed system. Even if I don’t have any means of making any money I still rely on the higher education system.I continue to find ways of sustain myself only with my writing. But how about all the minor things that are suppose to be done, like technical repairs or hotel cleaning? There is an hierarchy of judgment, even from me, that determine how much people should earn and how much they should be producing. And this hierarchy is never based on the development of a country or the maintenance of the specie or the safeguard of our planet: the objectives are always intersections of social interaction very far away from global well being.
As I read [your letter] now, in the great silence of these distances, I am touched by your beautiful anxiety about life, even more than when I was in Paris, where everything echoes and fades away differently because of the excessive noise that makes Things tremble. Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet #4
I won’t go about some political nonsense to try finding what sort of system or ideology should be propose to fix this issue because it won’t take us anywhere. It was never a problem or believes anyway. Those are only excuses we like telling ourselves to justify our ulterior motives. We just don’t want to take the garbage out, neither we want to wash the dishes.
But I thank my dear Jihii in pointing me to Rainer. I bet all I am talking about here are the anxieties generate when you are young and you have to resolve your life.
1 This is “I would like to have a large coffee” translated into latin by Google Translate.