I see something now. For Reeducation, work was bad — it was just to be gotten through, I see darkly. Meanwhile, things one does to feel well were not considered positive but were put on a par with drugs and alcohol. By treating yourself well to feel well, you were dampening pain that needed to be felt and hiding from reality. These were two fundamental errors in its theory. Notice how both create suffering as a first value.

Now, we have already discussed at length the ways in which this vision of the world is morosely religious. It is also very nihilistic and there seems to be some form of late capitalist despair in it as well, although I cannot explain that intuition. Alienation, I suppose. (Speaking of which, I should probably teach Children of Men and see what the students think of it.)

Stanley Aranowitz has the last good job in America, and all I want to do is research.

I see though that much of what I am tied in knots over has to do with graduate school, where writing came before speech and also before research. You entered a seminar on an unknown subject in one of your four languages, and were to have a rather publishable article on it ready within ten weeks. That meant you must have your topic by week 2, so that you could order your interlibrary loan materials by week 3 and receive them, perhaps, in weeks 5 and 6. You committed to a topic before you knew anything about its subject.

I remember driving on the Santa Ana freeway one day shortly after I had filed my dissertation, feeling free. I remember thinking that now, my autonomy achieved, I would never again commit to an approach or a hypothesis before doing a certain amount of research. I did not get to do this for long, that is to say, I got cornered again a few years later, but it was a good idea … and that, once again, is why I am for scholarship and against academic advice.


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