This is in response to a critique against the new GCAS:
(The Article is Here: Adam Kotsko)
Do you remember the childhood story about the Three-Billy-Goats Gruff? You know the puerile one about a grotesque troll who lives under the bridge? Now, you’re assumption in reading this is that their is going to a person-to-person derivative – however, no, I don’t think Adam Kotsko is the Troll – far from it, I personally respect his work. But, I do think the Troll is Academia. And how it has come to be treated and responded to as the outsider, that which we should fear. I hear some fear in Kotsko’s terms here. Maybe even trepidation; I know, a strong word – however, I think treading lightly might be smart – risk never happened with hesitation. This is not a call to blind hesitation, but rather a call to risk together.
In one version of the above story – rather than it being the typical patriarchy (grandfather, father, son) – it has them all being brothers. I see this is as the legitimate foundation and hope for GCAS. That a new form of epistemic universality is a possibility. What if this is the very groundwork needed as to breed new types of radical discourse and educational investigation?
The troll who never is really introduced as hungry, he simply consumes – his carnivorous desire is not out of desire, but for power and by implication, social subordination – does this not implicate the current state of affairs hiding in plain sight with Academies worldwide?
That they don’t exist to teach for the sake of teaching, but for the sake of creating a conditioned humanity who in the end is owned by the economic system. To put it in Baudrillardian terms, the person has been subsumed by the sign. People aren’t just commodities, they are the very pre-existence and necessity of it. Why? Debt. Debt to the institution. GCAS is attempting a new form of absolution.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is where it is at, I think this is where its headed. A year of Jubilee, in Jewish terms; it remains to be seen what is done in terms of monetary practicalities. But to critique before there is anything to critique, isn’t that similar to ejaculating without sex [although acting as if you are having sex]? Don’t you need a body to have sex with?
Here’s the conundrum inherent in Kotsko’s words; that he realizes that he is a ‘sell-out’ and yet remains in the very institutional backdrop that he is using to critique this new radical venture. My perspective here is not that Creston Davis is attempting to ‘save’ any institution, but rather, build something else in its place. Also, I would encourage Kotsko to not be so impatient with something that has yet a lot of potential to be an alternative to academic elitism – which he himself is aware that he might be espousing(!). (My personal critique would lie only in the fact that the current leadership themselves are or have a history of being from academically elitist backgrounds.) – However, this does not naturally insinuate that the project is not radical.
I think Creston Davis – [the ‘architect’] in this new form of educational landscape says this: “Could this thing fail–absolutely. But that’s the risk involved in trying to make connections, shifts, and and dare to let thought go where it may forging different possibilities and new creations.That to me is trying to live out philosophy. Are there problems with this? Yes there are many, and each are riddled with singular dangers and traps the nature of which we don’t yet understand. But that shouldn’t stop us from risking something different.”
This article is not about critiquing Adam; that would be a waste of time. But rather the ‘Real’, the elements also not being said. Take for instance the comments about economics (which is going to be an issue consistently throughout the course of this article due to the fact that ‘that’ is going to be the element that sets apart this project from traditional academia – and also the natural concern of this also being a pantheon of god-like superheroes and – but what these elements do demonstrate is a need to rupture the very pedestals that create these superheroes and also the very place where economics are secondary [if not eventually and functionally disappearing] to the notion of a new universal space for learning – whether it be academic or otherwise. From the conversations I have heard – the hope is not utopia but of a new way of traversing a fantasy that imminently demands a voice for those who have been oppressed (i.e., economically, scholastically, structurally and etc.) – again, I don’t want to give GCAS saviour-status, I think that also would be a waste of time – but address the fundamental issue brought up by the very presence of GCAS and by the tone of Kotsko’s critique.
In his own words, Creston realizes that there are going to be intrinsic shortfalls, does that make this project then null and void? What if Martin Luther King Jr. thought that or other historical voices. Of course, now, most might get frustrated that I equated Creston (et. al) with a freedom-fighter – but is not this very over-statement the point?
That we need something so radically different to free us from the expectations we have been conditioned to accept as the norm? I think this is what the argument is about – it isn’t about academia, its about the symptom of knowledge – the desire for knowledge to be free.
Now, as “Newmanian” [Saul] Anarchist, I do believe one-day we can have this – I fight for this – however, I am not an idealist – in fact, I think I idealism is evil [which is what the argument on Kotsko’s side is hoping for just as much – a perfect academic non-institution with the ‘respect’ for the academies of the past before us]. For me, we need a form of emancipation without institutional mediation, DO WE NOT? Have we been living in the Matrix for far too long that even though we taste the meat and know its not real and yet we still desire it? Isn’t there something better? Something better than the tyranny of the eternal return under the gaze of the Master’s Discourse?
I think also whats important here is to keep in mind that GCAS is a response to the imminent fall (invalidity) of institutional education. I am in here in the UK, and although there is an orgy of social status aligned with a certain amount of pornographic prestige – there is a need for something different, less esoteric. This is how I read what GCAS is about.
Don’t think that I am some blind supporter; like Zizek, I think the greatest thing we could do with our friends is critique them, in fact, its the highest form of love. Even the Jews thought this of God. But, I don’t think Creston (et. al) are afraid of critique at all. I hear in his words a desire for something new, something beyond the trite cliche’s that Kotsko is attempting to misread into Davis’ words [read the comments section at the above link] .
I think what we need more than ever today, is an end to the institution, period. In any form. As we all know, institutions mediate FOR us. What Kotsko then wants is for those to mediate for them. In a simple sense then, Kotsko is part of the very regime of empire he critiques and even in passing justifies the necessity of ‘unavoidable compromises’, which in music-industry terms is a sell-out.
Although, the ‘twerking’ act of Miley Cyrus was inappropriate and unacceptable by many [I personally thought it was disgusting!] – Can we not take this act as a metaphor for a radical shift that must happen. Was she not attempting to distance herself from her former iconic youth and claim that she has grown up?
That she has left that stage of her life. Far be it from the fact that her act was anti-femist; it also was a cry for emancipation. Into a new era of being. Is not this the same claim that GCAS is attempting to call us all out into? A new form of emancipation – into a new form of being?
(A practical aside is the monetary constraints. I think this has the possibility to be extremely limiting just like other schools – in one sense, it would be radical to offer these freely – however, because we are all captured/captures of the State apparatus – we have come to believe this might be the only way. Maybe we also need to invent a new economy…but I think Kotsko would say: that’s impossible. Maybe he is right, but how would he know, unless we all tried together? That’s the point – let act follow in the wake of our critique – or let them be one in the same….
There are a lot of concerns here, valid ones – but rather than simply critique, I think in strictly communist sense – why not pick up our shovels and sickles and begin helping pave a new form of social learning?
Is GCAS going to be Revolutionary? That remains to be seen, and is in part, up to you!