Thursday, April 16, 2015

Who cares about what I say or write, when I am a nobody, right?

I have on many occasions referred to a graduate school professor, Martin Krieger, who made a btw-kind of a remark during class discussions, which was profound to me then as it is even today.  Krieger said "it is not what you say, but who you are when you say it."

I am a nobody. So, what I say doesn't register a blip in the radar.

Of course, there are a few friends who read what I write, and pay attention to what I say.  But, otherwise, it is all a waste.  Yet, I say what I have to say and write have to write.  Stupid is as stupid does! ;)

In an email, my debater-friend asked me "Aren’t you going to write 432 posts on Fareed Zakaria’s book – In defence of liberal education ????"  Yes, Fareed Zakaria.  You know, the one who I referred to once as Omar Sharif on intellectual steroids.

But, I had no plans to--I have written enough and nothing has ever happened anyway.

And then I read Nicholas Kristof's column today, for which Zakaria's book is the trigger.  In that Kristof writes, while arguing in favor of liberal education,
John Adams had it right when he wrote to his wife, Abigail, in 1780: “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History and Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.”
That was a column that was published today, April 16th. In 2015.

I will now quote from my op-ed, which was published on March 8, 2014:
This tenuous existence of pursuits that are not about vocations per se is such a vivid contrast to the future that John Adams imagined in one his many letters to his beloved Abigail. Adams wrote, “I must study politics and war, so that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.
Other than the fact that I used a version in which the text had been updated to use contemporary grammar, we are saying the same things, using the same logic, and using the same quote.

My op-ed was titled (by the newspaper's editor, which is always the case)
Balancing living a life with making a living in higher education
Kristof's is "Starving for Wisdom."

But then I am a nobody.  Such is life.  Which is something that I learnt way back in graduate school, decades ago.  Thanks to Krieger.

However, I did say something that Kristof did not.  In that op-ed, I noted:
Of course, the higher education industry itself is also at fault. Over the decades (especially during the “false” enrollment gains that resulted from people unable to find jobs in a recessionary environment), campuses spent multiple millions on fancy buildings, and even more millions on sports, as if building monuments and entertaining the population were the mission in higher education. If only they had instead strengthened the implementation of education that would help students learn how to make a living and how to live.
But, is anybody listening? I suppose my friend in the other part of the world will be happy to know that the first of the 432 is done ;)


Ramesh said...

Very happy :):):). Wow you really can write - I only sent you that email a few hours ago !!

Of course, it matters who says something. We all use "pre selection" as a way to filter out the important from the noise. Else we will be drowned in the cacophony. BUT

In the earlier days even access to a publishing medium was restricted to who you are. But with the advent of the internet, that has changed. You and I have access to. Witness the times when a photo of a nobody went viral and got the world's attention. Same might happen with an idea too. So plug on my friend. I will continue to disagree and who knows - one day I might be known as the chief disagreer with a world renowned thinker !

Sriram Khé said...

Plug on, indeed.
It is a Sisyphean task, no doubt. But, like Camus said, that struggle is what gives meaning to my life ;)
So, the goal here is not to plug on in order to become recognized--am merely trying to make sense of my existence.

Anyway, glad to know that you are impressed enough. That counts for a lot.

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