Serious consideration of the asymmetry of conditions often leads concerned, charitable souls to push for an expansion of the university, to use some of its enormous capital reserves to bring in more members of the underclass. But this response, I believe, flows from a lack of either imagination or courage: either we can’t conceive of what education might look like outside of the highly professionalized, radically compartmentalized research universities, or we can but lack the courage to make it happen. Ivan Illich, in his 1971 polemic Deschooling Society, argues for the “deinstitutionalization” of education such that learning and wondering can be suffused once more through the entire grain of human life, freed from its confinement within the time of the school day and the gray walls of the classroom. I feel the urgency of such a view every day, and increasingly so as higher education becomes more endangered by the approaching double-edged crisis of finances and social trust. The pandemic, in addition to exacerbating the crisis of higher education, threatens a new outbreak of acute loneliness. As we begin to imagine—and, hopefully, to realize—alternatives, it is of the utmost importance that we take into consideration those lone thoughtful souls shining like beacons in the night, desperately trying—and failing—to find one another.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor