Two years ago I unbookmarked myself from all architectural websites and have since lived without their compulsive addiction. It makes no difference if we hear of architectural ideas immediately or decades down the road because architectural ideas, and especially aesthetic ideas, never change anything because they’re not intended to.
Ideas (such as off-form concrete as a final finish) that are inadvertently and immediately useful are quickly deemed passée and spurned.
Ideas that don’t have immediate application disappear into a kind of limbo, neither forgotten nor applied until the conditions for their application come about, if ever.
Ideas that are before their time are simply wrong ideas.
Ideas that eventually come to pass are often mistaken for prophecies but it’s really the environment changing to make those ideas now useful. They then become like the first type of idea.
This all suggests that, if one wants to find potentially relevant ideas to solve current problems, it is more useful to selectively scan and re-evaluate the past than it is to mass monitor the present. That’s a big “if”. Mainstream architectural media content and the mechanisms for its delivery have evolved to continuously distract and prevent people from thinking about anything that needs thinking about.
Cutting myself loose from all this means I’ll never know what I’ve missed out on and that’s the point. There’s enough to think about anyway, and new things tend to find me anyway via conversations or as general news.
"While one can appreciate the need for objective observation and analytical study, the use of these methods alone, as if they were the only true measures of reality, in and of itself, is an inherently sick and flawed condition. It skews the human organism by rendering obsolete skills and faculties it has always relied upon to contend with environmental and internal stress. As a consequence, we in the West have lost much in the way of our traditional energetic systems. We pride ourselves on education and sophistication, but we have lost the ability to speak about the world as an intuitive experience." from "The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification" by Matthew Wood
Paglia characterizes contemporary academic discourse influenced by French theorists such as Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault as the academic equivalent of name brand consumerism. "Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault," she says, "are the academic equivalents of BMW, Rolex, and Cuisinart." Under the inspiration of the latest academic fashions, academics manufacture insipid prose with no objective merit for the same reason fashion designers come out with new fashions each season. Academics peddle the latest fashionable theories to replace perfectly good older theories, made obsolete not by genuine progress, but only by incessant changes in fashion, changes deliberately contrived to create consumer demand in a credulous public. The self-seeking of the latest generation of scholars is, for Paglia, symptomatic of an era iconically represented by junk bond traders on Wall Street, concerned not with creating a quality product, but only with making a quick buck. She takes Halperin's essay "Why is Diatoma a Woman?" as an example, calling it "one of the great junk bonds of the fast-track academic era, whose unbridled greed for fame and power was intimately in sync with parallel developments on Wall Street."
As a remedy for rampant careerism in academia, Paglia prescribes a return to the ancient ascetic roots of the academic tradition.
Academe needs deprofessionalization and deyuppification. It has to recover its clerical or spiritual roots. Scholarship is an ideal and a calling, not merely a trade or living. Every year at commencement, we put on medieval robes that connect us to a great monastic past.
Paglia advises the graduate students of the next generation to return to the gentlemanly and ascetic traditions of past academics, avoiding faddish subjects or methods of interpretation, refusing to seek material reward from their work, and pursuing instead a lofty ideal of scholarship in which work follows "its own organic rhythm" rather than chasing the latest trends to win approval from contemporaries.