Corporate culture in modern times has demonstrated a general preference for 'pragmatism', and this is an occasional source of hostility toward learning. The idea here is that education is a costly and useless distraction from the more important business of making money. Reading and writing are solitary ventures, and according to this viewpoint these activities do little to make a person more affable or conventional and do not foster an aptitude for marketing or acumen for investment in profitable ventures. It is feared that intellectuals may acquire ethical and political ideas that may impede business or make its practices distasteful. Scientific and technological learning may be given a grudging respect; but the arts, literature, philosophy, and similar cultural pursuits are all considered a waste of time at best and subversive at worst. Those who pursue them are supposed to inhabit an 'ivory tower' of academia, full of grand plans whose practice is seen as impossibly flawed.
America is undoubtedly anti-intellectual. In fact, even when talent is discovered it gets misguided and watered down. In America whenever one poppy lifts its showy head above the others, it is cut down. People will deliberately 'dumb down' to avoid being seen as clever. They will pretend not to know things they quite clearly do know because it makes them look like regular guys. Bright children will try hard to do badly in school to avoid less bright children picking on them. Have you ever noticed how even well-educated announcers on radio and TV will try hard to mispronounce foreign words because to get it right would be bad for their image?Anti-intellectualism is very much an Anglo-American preserve (though there are plenty of other countries that have their own versions: try being an independent thinker in Japan and see how far you get!). There are countries such as France, Germany, and Israel, where intellect is recognized and highly valued. In America people tend to think there's no point in ... thinking! They say it allows them to ignore their mortality and comfort themselves with the reassuringly trivial. "I've too much to do to worry about all that," or, if you are a British, "Let's have a nice cup of tea." But if you consider life carefully you have to consider the question: What is it for? If you do not accept any of the pre-packaged religious answers, then you have a philosophical problem on your hands. Well, in America anyone outside the Church and universities who shows signs of excessive thoughts looks like is really playing a dangerous game. Writers, for example, are frequently ignored if they are say anything that challenges the established order or, if they push it too far, they may be silenced. And while in some countries this will happen by the crude methods of persecution, in others it'll be accomplished by the less obvious application of commercial pressure or social disapproval. Take the case of Salman Rushdie. Leaving aside arguments about the literary merit of "The Satanic Verses," it is significant that he was persecuted simply for thinking dangerous thoughts. It is also interesting that the profoundly anti-intellectual public has little difficulty in recognizing dangerous thoughts even when it doesn't fully understand them. It is well known that many of the people who burnt Rushdie's book had never read it. How could they? It was far too dangerous for that!
President George W. Bush sent Victor Ashe, the US Ambassador to Poland and a "special" friend since their cheerleader and cohabitation days at Yale University, "candy and flowers" via US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage. In another matter, Armitage surprised observers in Warsaw by an apparent criticism of his boss, the president. The real reason Armitage was in Poland is to check up on the US Ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe. Mr. Ashe and president Bush have had a "special relationship" since their college days at Yale, where they were roommates and male cheerleaders together. Just how "fabulous" is Mr. Ashe, Georgie? "It's known by many sources that George W. Bush in 1968 [when he was tapped into the Skulls and Bones] was performing homosexual acts with his male sex-mate and Yale roommate Mayor Ashe of Knoxville, TN. While mayor, Ashe made several unscheduled visits to the White House and, according to US Secret Service sources, Bush made at least 8 unscheduled and unannounced trips to Knoxville while he has been President. Ashe is suspected of two arrests. One was in Washington DC and the other was in Atlanta, while he was a Tennessee state legislator. They allegedly involved arrests while he was picking up male tranvestite prostitutes in public restrooms. Ashe was allegedly introduced on live TV, by Peter Jennings, as "The gay mayor from Knoxville" at a national mayor's conference in San Francisco."The mainline Australian newspaper, The Age, reported last week, prior to the release of Kitty Kelley's book "The Family" (Bush's) some charges Kelley could make, including: Quote"She may also raise a nasty rumour that circulates in Washington DC from time to time, that President Bush had a 'special relationship' with a former mayor of Tennessee, Victor Ashe, who is now the US ambassador to Poland." http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/09/10/1094789692938.html?oneclick=trueA newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, noted the president's lack of manliness in the 9/11 catastrophe. Bush was to stunned to react for about 9 minutes. Then he spent the rest of the day boring holes in the sky with Air Force One and hiding like a rabbit in a hole in the ground near Omaha, Nebraska. "W" STANDS FOR "WIMP."There are even suspicions in the US that the anthrax mailings right after 9/11 -- a matter that like Bin Laden, is still unsolved -- was used to shut down the National Enquirer newspaper in Florida, which had photos of George W. Bush from his Skull and Bones secret society days at Yale in compromising sexual positions. Ambassador Ashe was a member of Skull and Bones at the same time. The only casualty of the Florida attack was the photo editor, Bob Stevens, whose widow sued the US Government for not keeping the anthrax under control. The building was bought for a ridiculously low price by none other than the New York mayor, George Bush's pal, Rudy Guiliani, who has cleaned it up.
"She may also raise a nasty rumour that circulates in Washington DC from time to time, that President Bush had a 'special relationship' with a former mayor of Tennessee, Victor Ashe, who is now the US ambassador to Poland."
[...] It is feared that intellectuals may acquire ethical and political ideas that may impede business or make its practices distasteful [...]
Well I guess one of the most curious aspects of socially constructed entities is that many of them are the sorts of artifacts that can perform the social work they are supposed to accomplish only if we ignore or forget their artificial nature. A classic example of this is the socially necessary assumption that value inheres in what we call "money." As a matter of practical psychology money can fucntion as a medium of exchange only to the extent that we manage to treat it as valuable in itself. We don't "believe" money is valuable: we know it is. Yet what is that knowledge other than our unconscious confidence that, in this case, knowledge and belief are not merely compatible, but actually identical? We believe we know money is valuable becuase we know we believe it is. In such cases, the psychology of appropriate social belief requires that we maintain an involuted state of mind in which we both know and don't know that various artifacts in whose existence we believe exist precisely because we believe they do.
to be and not to be what it is, to be and not to be where it is, which is precisely what excludes any possible confusion with the object insofar as the latter offers itself to human industry and, thereby, to both exchange and use. (1984, p. 21)
The example of money thus helps to make us aware that the universe of the symbolic is also that of semblance and that one should not be duped by this (as forged money, that seeming of a seeming, so exemplarily illustrates). In short, the representation of money with what we have just seen of its 'seeming' aspect, leads us to reflect upon the Symbolic and upon the fact that, however immensely powerful this is, it shows itself, at the same time, to be no less fallible.
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