The University in ruins /1

The materialistic transparency of culture 
has not made it more honest, only more vulgar 
(Th. Adorno)

From Bill Readings, The University in ruins:

I am attracted to Robert Young’s suggestion that the University, both inside and outside the market economy, should “function as a surplus that the economy cannot comprehend’’. The binary opposition is there, and the University will deconstruct it by being neither simply useful nor simply useless. All very good, and very much what Humboldt wanted: indirect utility, direct uselessness for the state.”

This sentence makes for a perfect answer to all those people who are trying to sex up the University courses by bringing more industry into education. Anyway, the book by Readings is good and dense with concepts that its’s almost impossible to choose which excerpts I like most, I’d have to re-write it all on my blog… Here’s how the academia threats the arts by normalizing them:

“Rather than posing a threat, the analyses of Cultural Studies risk providing new marketing opportunities for the system. Practices such as punk music and dress styles are offered their self-consciousness in academic essays, but the dignity they acquire is not that of authenticity but of marketability, be it in the cinema, on MTV, or as a site of tourist interest for visitor to London. […] To put it bluntly, the shock value of punk is not lasting in a cultural sense, since it soon becomes possible to be “excellently punk”.

Here academia works as an advanced tool to extrapolate culture out of the context where it was born as a social practice, to make into a product of “culture” for a community of rich and educated people who have never been punk and never wished to be.

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