Feb 15, 2013

Norwegian Wood, and my own university fears

"You know, when I went to university I joined a folk-music club. I just wanted to sing songs. But the members were a load of frauds. I get goose-bumps just thinking about them. The first thing they tell you when you enter the club is you have to read Marx. "Read page so-and-so to such-and-such for next time.' Somebody gave a lecture on how folk songs have to be deeply involved with society and the radical movement. So, what the hell, I went home and tried as hard as I could to read it, but I didn't understand a thing. It was worse than the subjunctive. I gave up after three pages. So I went to the next week's meeting like a good little scout and said I had read it, but I couldn't understand it. From that point on they treated me like an idiot.

I had no critical awareness of the class struggle, they said, I was a social cripple. I mean, this was serious. And all because I said I couldn't understand a piece of writing. Don't you think they were terrible?"

"Uh-huh," I said.

"And their so-called discussions were terrible, too. Everybody would use big words and pretend they knew what was going on. But I would ask questions whenever I didn't understand something. "What is this imperialist exploitation stuff you're talking about? Is it connected somehow to the East India Company?' "Does smashing the educational-industrial complex mean we're not supposed to work for a company after we graduate?' And stuff like that. But nobody was willing to explain anything to me. Far from it - they got really angry. Can you believe it?"

"Yeah, I can," I said.

"One guy yelled at me, "You stupid bitch, how do you live like that with nothing in your brain?' Well, that did it. I wasn't going to put up with that. OK, so I'm not so smart. I'm working class. But it's the working class that keeps the world running, and it's the working classes that get exploited. What kind of revolution is it that just throws out big words that working-class people can't understand? What kind of crap social revolution is that? I mean, I'd like to make the world a better place, too. If somebody's really being exploited, we've got to put a stop to it. That's what I believe, and that's why I ask questions. Am I right, or what?"

"You're right."

"So that's when it hit me. These guys are fakes. All they've got on their minds is impressing the new girls with the big words they're so proud of, while sticking their hands up their skirts. And when they graduate, they cut their hair short and march off to work for Mitsubishi or IBM or Fuji Bank. They marry pretty wives who've never read Marx and have kids they give fancy new names to that are enough to make you puke. Smash what educational-industrial complex? Don't make me laugh! And the new members were just as bad. They didn't understand a thing either, but they pretended to and they were laughing at me. After the meeting, they told me, "Don't be silly! So what if you don't understand? Just agree with everything they say.'"

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