Twofish's Blog

July 19, 2006

History and image….

Filed under: academia, massachusetts institute of technology — twofish @ 6:09 am

Let me think out loud for a moment, and I think I can say some facts that will make me feel better.

The magazine article is an image, a stereotype, and idealization. What I’ve learned in researching history and politics is that images and idealizations are important because they represent aspirations, but if you dig behind the image and idealization, you find a reality that is always more complex, more nuanced, and also more interesting, and the funny thing is that once you get past the image, what you find is useful to one’s daily life. And once you look at the image *as* an image, then you often find that there isn’t anything there.

The reason I started blogging in the first place and the reason I started posting to Wilmott is that there is a lot of image in this world, and very little useful stuff that is real. The reality is that business is brutal, and that academia is even more brutal. I know surprisingly little about my ex-mentor because that person was very careful not to let me know anything at all useful or interesting about them. What I do know about people in academia, is that every single person I know personally that is the world considered a success have paid **terrible** personal prices to get there. It is brutal, and it is painful, and magazine articles like that just don’t expose the real costs and choices that people have to make, and that makes it much more difficult to intelligently make those costs and choices.

And reading these articles just makes me feel rotten, and part of the reason I’m blogging this is that I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way.

I don’t know anything about the life of my ex-mentor. Maybe it really is as good as the magazine says. But even if it is, I don’t think it is typical, and my experience in every other situation that I know personally is that the reality is always more complex, interesting, and enlightening than the image.

The thing that I have to keep in mind, is that I hate an image and an idealization. I hate it because I compare it to my reality, and my reality is nasty. But that is true with *any* idealization. I don’t know enough about the person behind the image to know how I feel about the person.

The problem with media images is that they make people afraid to talk about reality in public. Now that I think of it there are some funny, tragic, interesting, and complex stories from MIT involving this person, which I don’t quite feel comfortable talking about right now.

Getting back to Mark Latham, I admire him for his courage in posting what he experienced in Australian politics, and it’s interesting that by doing that he gets to lead a more normal life. I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet.


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