“The universities are an absolute wreck right now, because, for decades, any graduate student in the humanities who had independent thinking was driven out. There was no way to survive without memorizing all these stupid bromides with this referential bowing to these over-inflated figures like Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, and so on.
Basically, it's been a tyranny in the humanities, because the professors who are now my age – who are the baby boomer professors, who made their careers on the back of Foucault and so on – are determined that that survive. So you have a kind of vampirism going on.
So I've been getting letters for 25 years since Sexual Personae was released in 1990, from refugees from the graduate schools. It's been a terrible loss. One of my favorite letters was early on: a woman wrote to me, she was painting houses in St. Louis, she said that she had wanted a career as a literature professor and had gone into the graduate program in comparative literature at Berkeley. And finally, she was forced to drop out because, she said, every time she would express enthusiasm for a work they were studying in the seminar, everyone would look at her as if she had in some way created a terrible error of taste. I thought, 'Oh my God', see that's what's been going on – a pretentious style of superiority to the text.
[When asked what can change this]: Rebellion! Rebellion by grad students. This is what I'm trying to foment. We absolutely need someone to stand up and start criticizing authority figures. But no; this generation of young people have been trained throughout middle school and high school and college to be subservient to authority.”
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