Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

Oh wow. Is it wrong that I'm kind of turned on by this?

Mark Slouka offers a killer defense of the humanities in the September '09 Harper's. I sat and read it this morning and nodded like a bobblehead doll. Slouka writes about the marginalization of the humanities in the wake of what he calls the increasing "relentless vocational bent in American education," and he's dead-on in his naming of the commodification of reason and sentiment, the overwhelming product-oriented shift toward the easy-to-quantify capital benefits of math and science-based educations.

Slouka - himself a Ph.D. in Literature - writes that
It’s a play I’ve been following for some time now. It’s about the increasing dominance—scratch that, the unqualified triumph—of a certain way of seeing, of reckoning value. It’s about the victory of whatever can be quantified over everything that can’t. It’s about the quiet retooling of American education into an adjunct of business, an instrument of production.
Be still my beating heart. So true. Read the piece for an impassioned defense of the steady push toward mindfulness buried deep in the humanities. Anyone whose heart and soul grew out of the fertile soil that we call "the arts" has to relate to the ongoing relegation of all things creative to the margins, the edges, the "free time," the "on the side," the "so, how are you going to USE a sociology degree?" kind of bullshit.

It's a zeitgeist increasingly evident in a world that values MBAs over, well, pretty much anything else. And yet, Slouka argues that encouraging the humanities is an inherently political move,
Because they complicate our vision, pull our most cherished notions out by the roots, flay our pieties. Because they grow uncertainty. Because they expand the reach of our understanding (and therefore our compassion), even as they force us to draw and redraw the borders of tolerance. Because out of all this work of self-building might emerge an individual capable of humility in the face of complexity; an individual formed through questioning and therefore unlikely to cede that right; an individual resistant to coercion, to manipulation and demagoguery in all their forms.
Um, yes, and again, yes. Read the article. Then read a book. Or twelve. And buy a few for the small children in your life, too, who are more likely than not being taught that Scantrons and algebra equations are where it's at. Because, oh god, is there so much more.


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