Bakker’s Dozen: Questions to Fuck Up Your English Professor

by rsbakker

Aphorism of the Day:  Questions make ignorance visible, ignorance makes hypocrisy viable, and hypocrisy makes self-interest divine. All authority requires the conservation of ignorance, especially when it pretends to educate.

As promised. Feel free to ammend or to add questions of your own. For those of you who are both wired and virally minded, pass this on, and do post the responses you encounter (in your conscience if nowhere else)!  I would love to see this plague literary academics everywhere, and perhaps induce some to defend their values here. 

13) Should we judge Literature by what it resembles or by what it accomplishes?

12) If we should judge Literature by what it accomplishes, who should the literary author write for? Audiences who already share their values and attitudes, or audiences who do not?

11) If conventions are nothing more than the expectations of real people, and if people generally prefer to have their expectations confirmed, then doesn’t ‘violating conventions’ amount to turning your back on real people?

10) (If fundamentalism is raised as an object of ridicule). Which literary authors write for fundamentalist Christians? (If right-wingers or ‘rednecks’ are made an object of ridicule). Which literary authors write for rednecks?

9) Given that ‘groupishness’ is a universal human trait, and that groups invariably use their values to assert their social superiority, to police membership, and to secure their institutional privileges, which of your values do you think best serve these various roles?

8 ) What’s worse: the crap Hollywood produces, or convincing people who might change Hollywood to turn their back on it and only create for people who already share their attitudes and values?

7) What percentage of scholarly papers would you say are more motivated by the need to secure in–group prestige and/or discharge bureaucratic requirements as opposed to a genuine love of the subject matter?

6) Given that humans are hardwired to appreciate spectacle and convention (one need only look at myth), what are we to make of social groups that explicitly devalue spectacle and convention?

5) To the extent that you teach students what to take seriously, and what you take seriously tends to alienate consumers of popular culture, are you not teaching your students that turning their back on their cultural community is the only way for them to be taken seriously?

4) Given (5), would you say you are part of the cultural solution or part of the cultural problem?

3) What’s worse: selling out to strangers or writing exclusively to friends?

2) What should society make of authors who continually write about people they are too embarrassed to write for?

1) Have you ever admired yourself wearing a scarf in a mirror?