Friday, May 4, 2012

You want fries with that?

There is nothing wrong with intelligence. 

Doesn't seem like much of a statement does it?  And, in truth it shouldn't be.  It shouldn't even have to be said.  But for too long now, intelligence has been damned with faint praise.  The only thing that seems to be encouraged by anyone - politicians, journalists, bloggers, artists, people on the street - is mediocrity.  Intelligence is the new elite; as if 'elite' were somehow a bad thing to be as well. 

Why is intelligence so frightening?  Why is learning so frowned upon, in our Western, Anglo-Saxon, English speaking world?  Suggest to someone that it's 'you're' and not 'your' and all of a sudden, you're 'one of them.'  A snob.  An elite.  A Nazi. 

I don't understand.  I have no problem with claiming intelligence.  Look, I didn't finish high school, but that doesn't mean that I finished learning.  I know a lot about a lot of things but there are many, many more things that I know nothing about but I don't think I'm stupid because of it.  And I'm certainly not proud that I stopped learning because, 'learning's for losers.'  What the fuck?  Why would anyone be proud of not wanting to keep learning?  "Oh, I don't need to know that.  I just need to pay the rent and feed myself.  It's all I need to know.  I aint no snob."  Huh?  People like this vote.  People like this are allowed to vote. 

Our previous Prime Minister - John Howard - made his whole platform about being an 'everyman.'  He was most forthright in blaming all the ills of the world on 'intelligence.'  On the 'elites,' of the world.  How much more elite can you be than being a Prime Minister?  Oh no, he just wanted to be like all of us.  I've written this before but, I don't want a Prime Minister or a President to be someone I can go have a beer with.  Or someone who knows the price of bread and milk.  That's what advisers are for.  I want someone who can come up with ideas to keep that price of bread and milk affordable, whilst providing me with the opportunity for a secure income and, even better, the ability for that income to grow so I can afford maybe bread and whisky.  Or whatever it is that's more expensive and floats your boat.  I don't want to place my trust in an everyman - effectively a me.  I want a thinker.  I want an ideas man/woman.  I want someone who can embrace intelligence and use that intelligence for the betterment of ALL of us; not just to get re-elected. 

But no, Australia - and especially Australia because that's where I'm writing from - everyone is supposed to be as good as everyone else.  There's no class warfare in Australia.  Well fuck that.  The fuck there isn't.  There's the rich, the poor, the middle class; just like every other fucking country but we have this over inflated sense of ourselves as being as good as.  Well that's fine, but don't do it by trying to tear down institutions of learning.  I've always, always believed that education should be free.  Free for everyone.  That's what governments are for: health, infrastructure, education, police and military.  But no, everything's got to be fucking privatised now.  It's all small government these days.  Look, I've no problem with the government not being in people's pockets all the time but they have to be there for something.  And I notice it's always the ministers and politicians who went through university for free that call the loudest for up front fees.  It was good enough for them but not for anyone else?  To me, this is just an easy way of bringing everyone down to a certain level.  A certain level of intelligence.  I'm not saying it's any sort of conspiracy or anything but it's certainly very effective.  There are still countries in the world who know this, who limit the amount of knowledge any of their citizens are allowed to access.  And we're doing the same thing over here but in much more subtle ways. 

And I'm not saying that everyone should go to university and study.  I never went and never wanted to.  Still don't.  If university were free tomorrow, I still wouldn't go.  But again, it doesn't mean that I want to stop learning.  I want to keep reading, I want to keep listening.  Not everyone would go to uni, because not everyone wants to be what they offer.  We need mechanics and plumbers and people who say, you want fries with that?  Your job doesn't limit your ongoing education.  Nor should it.  There are truck drivers out there who know more about the work of Degas than people ostensibly studying Degas.  Why?  Because they WANT to know.  Their job may define them in people's eyes but it doesn't define their intelligence, or their thirst for knowledge.  Neither it should. 

It's like people who have made a success of themselves but still claim to be 'aware of their roots.'  I'm still, I'm still, Jenny from the block.  No, fuck that.  You've made something of yourself to get away from that mentality.  Isn't that why you worked so hard in the first place?  Why, if you grew up in poverty and made a huge success of yourself, would you still want to associate with that poverty?  Because it's more real?  Ask the people who live there.  Ask the kid who hasn't eaten in five days because his parents have left, or they have paid the rent and nothing's left for food.  Do you think that's more real than desire?  The desire to leave and never look back?  Sure, go back and help change things if you want but don't use that poverty as some sort of symbol of pureness if you're doing nothing to alleviate it for others still there who didn't have your drive, or talent or were just proud of being 'not intelligent.'  Fuck that, fuck that and fuck that again, I say. 

It's my biggest bugbear about this country.  The pride in being stupid.  The pride in never reading a book after high school.  The pride of not going to university because, 'that's for snobs and wankers.'  Fuck you man.  Educate yourself before it's too late. 

Which it might already be. 


Gorilla Bananas said...

What about Paul Keating? Wasn't he was a clever man who was constantly railing against snobs? I remember him being quoted as saying "Just because you swallowed a fucking dictionary..." to someone.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

The exact same nonsense is going on out here during the presidential election. Obama is made fun of by Republican candidates for encouraging kids to attend college. Same elitist rubbish you're getting. Soon it will hardly matter. College is becoming so terribly expensive that none but the wealthy will be able to attend, anyway.

tennysoneehemingway said...

GB: the difference was that Keating was attacking another politician, whereas Howard really wanted to get rid of pretty much every Universtity degree that wasn't Economics/Accounting. Everything was considered 'Elite.' Even Nursing.

UB: You're right about College/Uni. Pretty much all courses will soon be upfront fees and HECS will be a thing of the past. And only the 'elites' will be able to attend. There's something very wrong going on.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

I think everything you write here is fantastic, and I would hugely agree; if it weren't for the fact you lumped all bloggers, artists and journalists in that bracket; which is really disappointing. The thing with blogs and journalists in this day and age; is that you get to choose your sources. If you're coming across people that champion mediocrity; then you're reading the wrong sites.

mo.stoneskin said...

I'll be brutally honest, I know very little about Australia and on the whole I know very little about what's happening and do the cowardly thing and bury head in the sand which, I'm ashamed to say, is what I often do.

I do, however, agree more or less with what you are saying.

tennysoneehemingway said...

Kid: I didn't lump ALL of anyone, I was just using these things as an example. Of course there are plenty of bloggers, journalists and artists who are after more. Maybe I need to be more specific but, then again, that would mean I'm limiting the intelligence of my audience. Not everything has to be spoon fed.

Mo: thanks for the kind words and I wouldn't worry about knowing anything about Australia. Know stuff about China if you really want to keep abreast of changing worlds.