Monday, February 22, 2010

The notion of irrationally conservative decision-making

The notion of irrationally conservative decision-making causes me to think of Jane Austin's novel, "The Age of Innocence," which highlights the repressive quality of the Victorian Age and the dichotomy between how one actually thinks and feels and how one wants to be perceived by society. The hypocrisy of the Victorian Era is famously explored in Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, a story that explores mankind's lashing out against a repressive culture in the form of committing forbidden, scandalous, criminal acts. The tale illuminates the destructive nature of a society that is not honest with the baser instincts of human nature and enforces unnatural limitations on what should be considered acceptable behavior. In Christianity, pride is considered the greatest sin--to consider oneself beyond reproach--the notion of evil hiding in the light. Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter explores this theme as well, wherein Chillingworth commits crimes against humanity while presuming to be upholding the moral values of his community. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Work in the Real World

When I hear the idea/accusation that some people work in the real world and others don’t I think of the bifurcation between jobs that are considered serious and jobs that are considered frivolous. Consider for example, this report that lists jobs according to their level of prestige in American society, the top 10 and the bottom 10:
Top 10 Most (& Least) Prestigious Jobs in America: How Much They Earn and How to Land Them:
Of interest to me, teacher, appears high on the list. Selfishly, I find this relieving, since I am one. On the other hand, faculty in academia often consider themselves as not working in the real world. The campus, in this context, can be considered a walled garden, a mini-utopia of ideas, libraries, nice buildings, expensive facilities, cutting-edge technology, rigorous intellectual debate, etc. The serious business and political considerations of the world are pushed out and exist only beyond the walls. Despite the corporatization of massive public universities, the rise of business schools and sports programs, I still think this ancient ideal persists. My experience as a student at UT-Austin and IU-Bloomington bears this out—I was able to utterly immerse myself in my studies/academic work without having to seriously consider profound financial matters, ie. survival. Nowadays, however, I find myself straddling both worlds as I work at UWW, run a company, and attend grad school at UW-Madison. My work in the debatably real world of academia takes me out of my walled garden student experience at Madison, so I do not feel the total immersion experience in my studies that I did at UT and IU. But I feel my current situation is more appropriate for me right now.