Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Dreaded Language of Academese

I had to reject an essay for an academic journal, and am reminded how badly grad school teaches people to write. Never mind the stylistic shortcomings of a particularly stilted, artificial prose. That's bad enough, but you can probably unlearn it. More deadening is that the process teaches you to *think* wrong too - or think less clearly and in a less interesting, lively way. Not that my thought processes are firing on all six cylinders or doing anything that great, but I guess I always had certain intuitions (i.e. "This is interesting" or "I wonder what would happen if I did this?...BZZZT! YOW!") and didn't let other people's paradigms or convoluted thoughts derail me into what THEY were interested in (which I might not be). I can remember learning to count syllables and label the meter of a line of poetry (and I'm sure I could relearn the technique quickly enough if I had to) but I never let that really affect my enjoyment (or lack of enjoyment) of a poem. So much of what is called "scholarship" seems to be a dry, complicated, pointless little intellectual game or puzzle, and I can understand why people get turned off by it and think it's useless - because when it's conducted that way, it is!


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