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Sometimes I Just Feel Stupid

 
Pardon me as I whine for a moment.

I don't like feeling stupid. In the days of yore when I was in school and honors-elitism filtered its way through me, I felt like I was smart, I had something to offer intellectually to the world. Sure, I was ridiculed for being a brain, but better be ridiculed for that than for being an idiot.

Now I'm in the big scary graduate world, and there are lots of really talented people out there, and suddenly I'm just mediocre. No one really ridicules me, as far as I know, but sometimes I wonder if they should.

I often complain about the convoluted nature of a lot of academic essays, how a lot of it is just a lot of pompous babble that doesn't really say anything except that the author has a high opinion of his- or herself. And while I stand by that statement to some degree, sometimes I must admit that at least some of my derision is a mask for the fact that I don't understand a word of what these people are saying. I'm assuming other people do, or professors wouldn't be forcing us to read this stuff, so the problem must lie with me.

One thing that gets me is that especially in recent theory and criticism, writers like to quote a lot of semantics or historical or psychoanalytic theorists whom I've never read, or if I read, didn't really get. I don't comprehend Beaudrillard, I barely understand Foucault, and I don't even know really what Derrida or Saussure did other than that they keep being quoted a lot in recent criticism.

Maybe I just don't understand a lot of big words, despite my relatively decent score on the verbal section of the GRE (probably a lot of good guessing). Maybe I'm resistant to certain kinds of theory. Maybe I'm just pissed off because in my undergraduate courses, when I studied English Literature, we studied English Literature, not a bunch of high-minded philosophers from the Continent, and I'm just not used to that kind of writing.

The eternal question lies on my mind: is it me or is it bad writing?

Somehow, I made it this far, so I imagine I must have picked up something somewhere in order to survive. But sometimes I wonder if I have the mind it takes to continue successfully in the academic world. Maybe it's not so much stupidity but more specific brain-type problems, and Foucault wasn't written for a right-brained, auditory processing girl with a mild case of attention deficit disorder who would ultimately rather read poetry than dry dissections of human written language. (But I like dissecting human language, but I guess it's that I like it moist....).

As I write this, a quote from Roland Barthes' Pleasure of the Text has come to my mind (I like PotT because though it's weird philosophy/theory, I can understand it): "And yet: what if knowledge itself were delicious>?

Knowledge was delicious to me once. Reading and interpreting and... and... just being with text was delicious to me once. Right now, it's just frustrating, and I feel stupid.

 


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