Learning in public, read this post as a question
How does the university end up with a professor replaced by the web: professor-as-anxious-about-their-own-authority and web-as-confident-in-its-truth-as-marketing? Cause god we’re hungry for truth. And mind, I’m theorizing here, not advocating.
Can we map the self-debunking of authority in authority in academia with the actual debunking of authority in this “post-truth” era (which I do believe is a misnomer)? Like, we had Deleuze and his immanent planes, Neitzche and his mobile army of metaphors, Derrida and his lack-of-center. All of this told us “truth” is actually just power. And now we’ve gotta deal with the fact that folks liked academics for their truth (which came with power) not just their power.
The mythos of authority is crumbling. Professors are/were seen as both dispensers of truth and advocates of a sort of leftist relativism, breaking down “truth.” This refusal of objective “Truth” has finally caught up to them. And so a notion of truth comes up both based on stream-consumption and “I feel therefore it is…” Democracy wants what it wants, not what “is” per-say. The web relies increasingly on conspiracy-as-truth, crafting a world of skeptics.
So – students. Im concerned for the student that both exists in left-wing academic circles, student-as-passive-consumer-and-skeptic realms, AND in the social media sphere.
Whether you’re reposting leftist-sounding articles, performing/projecting an identity as SJW, or tweet-storming Trumps politics, truth sounds sexy when pitched as conspiracy. Why work on much of anything when you’re told all is contextual, relative, and a product of power moving through the world.
The web is the centerless, metaphor-laden, truth-absent mythological world that seduces folks with claims of truth that the self-conscious academic doesn’t quite like to admit to. And with those ever-so-refreshing claims of truth, the “authority” of the internet grows because you don’t have to listen to the relativist nihilist who’s more right about power than you know. But it’s a tad hopeless.
We need a refreshed pedagogy of propaganda-sensing, where the occasionally assumed relativist nihilism of faculty can make sexy the question of “how did this come to be” rather than “is this true or not.” If truth has no bedrock in this 21st century left: “Your truth is not my truth.”, then we need something to replace it that can combat the mythological, natural, abhorrent “truths” of fascism.
But critical analysis from the left does need that authority and respect. Even though in words it hates authority and concepts like “respect.”
We’ve debunked truth but haven’t offered a convincing alternative, prompting a back-lash from right-wingers who have an answer, a method, and a “How” that’s ushering in a proto-fascism at a troubling rate. We debunk and debunk and debunk, but hermeneutics doesn’t help out with a creative vision for the future. It oddly enough just entrenches the status quo.
I certainly have more questions than answers – but here’s where I’ll leave:
– Does knowledge construction depend on a truth/false binary to be convincing?
– Did we not usher in a post-truth world with Neitzche and Foucualt and Deleuze and Derrida? What is the alternative?
– How might we shift the question from truth-seeking and debunking to “Here’s the propaganda/myth/psychology – here’s how it’s leeched into our brains.”
– What is our alternative? Our telos? Our vision? Our hope.