The Bullsh*t Orgy – Academic Edition

Ok, so these are my thoughts on how academics work. There’s two types of academics; those who are good academics that strive to be understood and exercise a healthy amount of self-skepticism and skepticism about other people’s work, and those who think they are heaven’s gift to academics and are enamored with the highfalutin sound of their own rhetoric. It is this latter kind of academic who perpetuates the “bullsh*t orgy”, by which I mean, the en-masse frantic usage of rhetoric that is largely composed of bullsh*t no one believes, understands, or cares about. In other words, literal acedemic clusterf*cks.

I am now going to explore this metaphor in depth by describing the various participants in the bullsh*t orgy:

1. “The orgy participant who knows it’s bullsh*t” – this is the academic who is so far up his own ass and so in love with his own rhetoric, that he is just having fun with it without caring for the repercussions. He knows a lot of what he says is bullsh*t, but he doesn’t care. He just wants to see how many people buy it (i.e., how many other participants join his orgy), and how many call him out for it (i.e. the point at which the police barge in and stop the orgy). [see ‘internet troll’ for comparison]

2. “The orgy participant who doesn’t know it’s bullsh*t” – this is the early academic or eager postgrad who is peripherally familiar with the rhetoric but doesn’t entirely understand it; he participates out of sheer enthusiasm to be accepted by the community, even though he is the main reason so much of the rhetoric turns into utter bullsh*t. He’s usually the one moaning and breathing the loudest in the orgy (i.e. the one publishing the most papers on the subject, however naive they might be), and as a result will most likely pass out before the orgy is over (and no one will ever remember or cite him again). That, or he’ll become self aware and join the first group. Alternatively, his realization that it is bullsh*t might be so embarrassing it causes him to drop out of academia all together.

3. “The orgy observant who knows it’s bullsh*t” – this is the silent academic who stands outside, knows the clear-bullsh*t from the good-rhetoric and refuses to participate [after all, there’s much more interesting non-trending topics to study]. He still watches occasionally [I mean, he is paying the subscription to the journal(s) afterall] because, like a good train-wreck, orgies are compelling. He occasionally shakes his head, sighs and pities the poor fools involved (even more so if it involves his own current/former students).

4. “The orgy observant who doesn’t know, but suspects it might be bullsh*t” – like the ‘participant’ in the similar above category, this academic or postgrad is enthusiastic about the rhetoric, but he is a little more cautious and unwilling to jump straight into (what really looks like) a bullsh*t orgy [he is not sure yet, but something tells him it is]. They occasionally sigh and wish they could “understanding” it and thereby participate, but so far all the theory he has read about it strikes him as unconvincing. This person will later, undoubtedly, join one of the three previously mentioned categories, or quit academics entirely out of sheer sexual frustration.

5. “Observants from other disciplines and ‘editions'” – these are the academics and non-academics from other disciplines who behold the bullsh*t orgy, confuse all academic orgies from [any discipline not their own] to be participants in the propagation of bullsh*t, and enjoy claiming they never engage in such base activities, though of course, they do.

Myself, when I was in high school I firmly believed I wanted to belong to the first category, because making bullsh*t up seemed like the highest calling any person should have. Now, as a postgrad, I am definitely standing outside the bullsh*t orgy, looking in with a slightly baffled expression on my face wondering “really, how *does* that fit in there” and “wow, that’s surprisingly flexible”, and slowly realizing I might inevitably join the knowing head-shaking observers instead, because I’m far to asexual to embrace such blatant rhetorical self-pleasuring activities. Also, there really are more interesting areas to research than the top-trending, largely masturbatory ones.

Pedantically,

AR

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