Hacking the Academy

Great Tumblr series by fucktheory inspired by the ‘hacking the academy‘ project (itself hacked here).

Hack/The Academy: A Dialogue in Seven Segments – part one here

I’ll steal my favorites and put them here:


First of all, then, the question of critique itself – of the possibility of critique.

We who “hack” the academy – and in participating, even to critique, I can hardly exclude myself – where do we think we stand?

I’m not trying to point to any hard or fast rule, since rules always have exceptions.  I’m just asking – how many of us do not have at least a BA from ‘the academy’?  How many of us have never taken something that might be called a ‘theory’ course?  And is there anyone more invested in “hacking the academy” than graduate students, the very cogs whose underpaid labor turns the wheels of the machine and whose bodies provide its fodder?  And even those who have never formally been a part of the machine, who have never participated in the institution – how many of you have never been influenced by a book written by a tenured professor or published through a university press?

In other words, we can’t afford to resist or even begin thinking without first remembering that we are hacking (away at) the very flesh that birthed us, in one way or another.  That doesn’t make this project any less important or useful.  But this basic question of origin cannot be disavowed, and surely we must allow it to limit our expectations.

Have you ever tried to fundamentally change the behavior of one of your parents?

Exactly.  As Ziggy Stardust once said, “It ain’t easy.”



At the end of the day, in other words, it is not a question of inside and outside:  nothing could be more odious than a radical challenge whose “radicality” would be quantified in terms of distance from the institution or the practices of “the academy.”  It is, simply put, a question of production:  what does this “hack” – or any “hack” – allow us to do?  What does it create that did not exist before?  What does it allow us to think that we couldn’t think before?

Derrida’s legitimate distrust of the notion of “interdisciplinarity” is a perfect example of how a nominally or originally radical “hack” can be co-opted into a largely meaningless feel-good concept about which the academy can pat itself on the back.  And if you need another example, what better to serve as one than the very fact that, within this imaginary dialogue, I can mobilize the words of Jacques Derrida, one of the most radical and irreducible thinkers of the 20th century, to serve as the voice of “the academy”?

There is no radical challenge that the institution can’t assimilate.  Change emerges from productions we generate while their forces are regrouping.

Us.  V them.  Over and over again.


9 Responses to “Hacking the Academy”

  1. traxus4420 Says:

    the only critical point i would make here is to quote #1 – just because the university is “the very flesh that birthed us” doesn’t mean the question of origins should “limit our expectations,” especially if the point is that we (your generic petit-bourgeois professional or bohemian type) are not meaningfully separate from the university. recognition of how ‘we are all academics’ outlines the contours of struggle and suggests certain strategies over others. but there is no reason to maintain loyalty to the university’s imaginary. it’s about production. there are no parents.

  2. butch $tang Says:

    “And if you need another example, what better to serve as one than the very fact that, within this imaginary dialogue, I can mobilize the words of Jacques Derrida, one of the most radical and irreducible thinkers of the 20th century, to serve as the voice of “the academy”?

    Who says he’s so irreducible? I don’t think that ‘distrust of interdisciplinarity’ is all that legitimate either. But then, of course, I’m not the one doing the agonizing, and I intend to never do anything at all under Derrida’s auspices, it’s bad enough to have to put up with the pleasure Deleuze brings–and especially if you do a little further ‘reduction’, as with a sauce, it gets even more fantastic/horrible, as a dancer friend once told me about taking acid and poppers together…

    When I was at Juilliard, it was always fashionable to talk about how the School ‘sucked’, this is a very adolescent attitude found among the various gilded ones who get into the most prestigious (and usually these are the best) schools, and we have several examples of Oxford grads repudiating having gone to the best school. Whereas Harvard Brahmins have always been gracious enough to offer Yalies such sage morsels as ‘No Yale man is ever truly a gentleman’.

    I doubt it’s germane to the issues, but I have never taken a ‘theory course’, except many ‘music theory’ courses, and in fact, went to Paris because Juilliard was indeed a little slack in that respect, but who said there might not be a problem with ‘theory course interdisciplinarity’ as well. I’d still trust Deleuze over Derrida on literally everything: after all, I escaped clear and certain Deleuzian danger in my own person, not to mention Gilles himself loved Schumann and understood him well, PLUS knew sylvie Guillem of POB personally, and caught her ‘performance philosophy act’ one day. Derrida probably wouldn’t have known what to talk to her about.

  3. butch $tang Says:

    ‘No Yale man is ever truly a gentleman’.

    Should be ‘never’, of course. The Cambridge (US version) rogues think that’s a form of generosity to the Yale boys, of course, although they do like to stop short of overt flattery…

  4. butch $tang Says:

    christ, I was right the first time, I did mean ‘ever’. sorry.

  5. butch $tang Says:

    Well, speaking of the goddam academy, I’ll say one thing for them, and they are ZIZEK! All of my comments, whether by ‘Porfirio Stompanato’ (the pro9viders) or Zsa Zsa Turner got deleted at Dr. Dean’s, I love it, she even ‘closed comments’ in her Memorial Day Fury, when I was willing to take either male or female role. Some of these Alabamans just are NOT diva enough, you know that?

    The most unfair deletion was that I tried to help poor Connie Stevens sell her 8 1/2 million Lincoln Center penthouse so she could spend more time with her grandbabies, and–now, that’s just not NICE! because that didn’t even have to do with ny narcissism.

    PLUS the Shanghai creep has started deleting me too from her corporate bleug, so I guess I just be persona non grata, while trying to defend the rights of sex enthusiasts or all genders!

    DO please continue to critique all XIXEK UNIVERSITIES, please! I’m not even sure Mikhail is quite disgusted enough with Zizek. Although…it’s true, there are Marxists who use the word ‘terrorist’ in a cheap nonchalant way just because they are anti-Hineu. This, even when they had a CHANCE, because they were not academicians!

  6. butch $tang Says:

    UNBELIEVABLE POST at Larval Subject, about how ‘Harman hit the nail on the head’. I put an anonymous comment, which he’ll erase, because, I mean, my god, it’s just so ‘sensitive’ the way these academics are so much more ‘troubled’ than the public are–esp. sensitive are those living in Egypt, where it’s hardly the top story. At least he’ll read the fucking comment, even if he just deletes.

    Sorry if I’m going off on tangents suggested by fragments of your post, but the whole academic bleugers just act like fucking assholes with their self-importance around important matters like the oil spill.


  7. butch $tang Says:

    Yeah, he did delete it, and it wasn’t even rabid. These people are unbelievable in the way they use the academy to frame their silly posturings as ‘more sensitive than the public’. I can’t believe this duo, frankly. I’ve heard tons of shit thrown at Bryant before, but always thought he was pretty innoccuous. Posturing as ‘sensitive to the oil spill’ is different. He’s just a fucking asshole.

  8. nice thread, thanks . i like ur weblog.

  9. http://www.facebook.com/mansuper360 hack my facebook if u dare…coz u guy really suck…..u only said that u are hacker but don’t know how to hack

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