I haven't blogged in over six months. I blame grad school. And so this first post back will be dedicated to my new-found disillusionment.
Don't get me wrong-- I'm glad I'm going to grad school, if only because I would have constantly wondered "what if" if I hadn't. Plus, I don't (always) hate it. As a janitor, I was working 20 hours a week and hating constantly because of it. Now I'm working >60 and I only hate my life most of the time (I'm doing a quality of life assessment because a salary assessment between the two comes out highly in favor of janitoring). Another reason I'm glad I'm here is that my disillusionment is, I believe, a product of my ability to question institutions and ideas-- ironically, a skill I wouldn't have learned had I not been a part of the humanities.
I was reading Marx for my theory class and came upon this passage: "Capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working day. It usurps the time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight. It higgles over a meal-time, incorporating it where possible with the process of production itself... It reduces the sound sleep needed for the restoration, reparation, refreshment of the bodily powers to just so many hours of torpor as the revival of an organism, absolutely exhausted, renders essential."
This is grad school. I was struck by the irony that here I was learning to critique capitalism's extreme working day in a class that got over at 9:00pm, giving me eight hours to drive home, shower, and get to bed before waking up at 5:00am to get ready to teach. Grad school is teaching us to recognize the oppression of those without power while propagating that same oppression on its subjects. That was the moment of my disillusionment.
My friend Rebecca and I were talking a few weeks after that, and I said, "I would enjoy teaching a lot more if I didn't have to go to school on top of it." To which she replied, "I would enjoy school a lot more if I didn't have to teach on top of it." Perhaps it is the perfectionist side of me, but I can't get over the fact that I am being asked to do so much that I can't do anything really well. Each and every aspect of my life suffers because I am expected to do so much in so many different areas.
I'm not sure how to conclude this (maybe I will talk more about my hatred of conclusions later), but maybe my ending idea is that I have a life to live. I have a passion for doing things well and having pride in my work. Struggling to maintain a notch above mediocrity is not for me. I'd rather be indirectly oppressed by the capitalist workforce than directly oppressed by the institutions of higher learning AND indirectly oppressed by the capitalist workforce. I really believe that academia offers intellectual freedom and expansion to those that pass through it, but for those that stay... I wonder what it offers?