Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I still hate theory
I've always hated theory. I hate it because it makes me feel stupid. I hate it because everyone I know seems to "get it" and I don't. I hate feeling alienated because of it. I hate being too stupid to truly be one of the group, to be accepted. I want to be included. I hate missing out because I'm too stupid to understand things. I want to be smart enough to attract a girlfriend who is smart. I want to be respectable. I hate not being able to take part in discussions. I wish I could make you understand what this feels like. What if all your friends were tennis players, but you couldn't play tennis. That's what this feels like.
I tried reading Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes because it's about photography. I couldn't get past the first two pages. Here's a sentence from the second page: "The various distributions we impose upon it are in fact either empirical (Professionals / Amateurs), or rhetorical (Landscapes / Objects / Portraits / Nudes), or else aesthetic (Realism / Pictorialism), in any case external to the object, without relation to its essence, which can only be (if it exists at all) the New of which it has been the advent; for these classifications might very well be applied to other, older forms of representation."
Can someone please tell me what that sentence is supposed to mean? What human being actually communicates that way? I don't even know how to begin to try to understand it. How can you expect me to keep reading if I have no hope of understanding even one thing about what he's saying? Why does he say professionals and amateurs are empirical? What does that even mean? Why does he say landscapes, objects, portraits, and nudes are rhetorical? What does that mean? What the hell does "the New of which it is the advent" mean? I cannot begin to understand this sentence.
I get so angry when I read something like this. Something that doesn't seem to care about communicating with a real human being in the way real human beings communicate.
In college I took an introduction to literary theory class because I had to for my major. I hated it so, so much. I've never hated a class like I hated that class. Throughout school I was bored or indifferent with a lot of classes, and sometimes I liked a subject but didn't like the teacher, but with this, I just hated the subject so much. The teacher was cool, but that didn't help. One time I broke down in tears as I tried to explain to her why I hadn't turned in a particular assignment. I hadn't turned it in because I couldn't do it. I was incapable of doing the kind of advanced abstract thought you need to be able to do for literary theory.
I hate being inferior. I hate how it separates me from people I don't want to be separate from.
When I started college I was a music major, the best part of which is that you don't have to write papers. It's a subject that's not based in language or verbal thought. I thought I would never have to worry about writing papers. But then I switched majors to English. I didn't even like English class in high school. I never took honors English, I took regular English. It didn't occur to me to apply for honors English. Not only did I not give a shit about my academic career, I knew I was not smart enough for honors English.
I don't understand why I turned out this way. I wish I could make you understand how I feel. As the years have gone by after college I've thought about it less frequently, but when it does come up, like when I'm reading a blog or comment or essay or just a Facebook status and I don't have a clue what the person is talking about, it all comes bubbling up to the surface. It's like I'm back in college again, sobbing uncontrollably because I know how inferior I am.
I don't want to sound like I'm mad at anyone. I guess I'm just jealous that everyone is smarter than me. But that doesn't mean I'm mad. I just want to get this off my chest once and for all and explain how it feels. If I can make you all understand how I feel maybe I can relax finally and stop letting it bother me so much.