On Typical Symptoms of Academic Ressentiment


Another stranger reads something by Levi Bryant, discovers it’s mostly hypocritical shit:

The first thing I should point out is that there is a less than constructive, and ultimately sort of false, humility in Levi’s post. He begins as follows:

I ordinarily don’t like to give advice on writing as I don’t believe I’ve attained the status as a philosopher, academic, or writer to speak with authority on these sorts of issues. I often think of myself as a sort of rogue, scoundrel, or hobo that wanders about at the margins of the academy without having really established myself in any way. In other words, I have a pretty low opinion of my work.

That this humble “hobo” is constructing this position out of his ressentiment can be seen in his response to my criticism, where he (quite rightly, I should add), points out that his work (and therefore his reflections on how he produced it) is worthy of some respect:

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with my own scholarly work. As someone who has done fairly well recognized scholarship– I’d direct you to my book on Deleuze –I’m not exactly speaking out of the blue, nor am I some young, idealistic upstart as you patronizingly suggest.

Moreover, on the Q&A on his faculty page, where we also learn that he is a perfectly respectable professor of philosophy, he tells us that, “I have wanted to be a professor since I was roughly 15 years old, so I haven’t really considered other possibilities.” It is not at all surprising that such a person would describe himself as a “rogue, scoundrel, or hobo”, but it is, I would argue, also a pretty typical symptom of academic ressentiment.

It’s strange that for all of his whining about his mortal enemies, Bryant manages to attract “negative energy” like no one in the business, including approving clearly critical comments that he then bravely engages only to reveal his ultimate double-edged idiocy: I’m an academic hobo, but I’ve done some great widely-admired scholarly work, I’m a rebel without a pause, but I’m also a typical professor of philosophy… Does he ever get tired?

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“I Must Break You” (Updated)


[I promise, this is the last one on the matter, but I can’t resist, simply can’t – sorry it’s a bit long, but not as long as the original exchange.]

There’s rarely so much obvious hesistation followed by a resolution as in Alexei’s “What the hell, I’ll add my two cents here too” – but who am I to talk here? I would have probably done the same thing in view of so many “uncharitable” readings of Kant, hold on to this word, we’ll see it in a second. Since we know already why Levi hates Kant so much – I think his initial hesitation in that post was justified, it’s honest to admit it, but still unwise vis-a-vis an ongoing debate – it’s easier to process the following exchange. Before we dive into it, I’d like to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading it, even though in most cases siding with Alexei, I did agree with Levi on some points, even if he was coming very close to a really serious critique of Kant’s argument and never really quite got there.

So after an ininital back and forth following the fateful “What the hell” we get this affected remark from Levi: Continue reading