college is the impulse that makes us hate homeless people

I

American life is structured around existing within at least one institution.

To be institutionless is to be looked upon as a ghost and made to feel like a ghost, cold and alone, unable to touch the world of the living. To be institutionless is to not exist.

College is notable because it is one of the more voluntary institution we are permitted. This enhances the desirability of college. Our alternatives are:

prison (involuntary, arbitrary, extrajudical punishment like rape, HIV infection, mutilation is encouraged and integrated into the system, most people who enter prison do so not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because the demands of the lucrative prison-industrial complex create increasingly bizarre, unavoidable laws, cooperate with high schools to funnel undesirables to prisons and the streets, etc)

The school-to-prison pipeline is the widespread pattern in the United States of pushing students, especially those who are already at a disadvantage, out of school and into the criminal justice system.

the asylum/mental health system (largely involuntary, pressuring at best, arbitrary, incarceration and quality of treatment is related more to being queer, of color, holding alternative political views, etc than actual mental illness)

…acknowledged that people from black and minority ethnic communities were less likely to come forward voluntarily for mental health treatment, more likely to stay longer as in-patients and more likely to be prescribed medication or electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) instead of psychological treatment.

the army (pseudo-voluntary, lack of money/options coupled with recruiter lies and patriarchal pressure to “be a man”, hyper-controlling and destructive once you entered the system)

In FY2010, there were 3,158 total reports of sexual assault in the military.  The DOD estimates that this number only represents 13.5% of total assaults in 2010, making the total number of military rapes and sexual assaults in excess of 19,000 for FY 2010.

career (pseudo-voluntary, where you work and your terms of employment are dictated mostly by where you’re born, employers whim, luck, and if you’re a woman, queer, person of color, and/or different in any way you can expect abuse, harassment, reduced wages, reduced chance of promotion without legal recourse)

and the list goes on: the pseudo-prison of high school, boots camps for children using illegal, PTSD-inducing torture methods, isolative religious compounds, etc.

All these institutions have two things in common:

1) synergetic, reinforcing (join the army so you can get college tuition so you can get a career or end up in prison or the mental health system due to untreated PTSD–these all effortlessly ricochet humans from one or the other–few can escape at least one of these systems)

2) they make college look good (by dint of being even more nightmarish, unnatural, painful).

II

So you go to college.

College is paying huge sums of money for the illusion of progress across a 4, 8, however many year time-span. You’re sold the idea that college is a guarantee, that it’s the proper, correct, even moral thing to do. College is a secular religion and the heaven is career, housing, stability.

College is the revitalizing current of Whiteness. This current feels like safety, shelter, enough to eat, social health, power. The people who control this current don’t care about you.

College is the impulse that causes us to hate homeless people.

You learn to hate people who don’t go to college.

We must not shame those who choose not to go to college.

We must reject the idea that college is where Knowledge is.

We must reject the idea that people, their thoughts, and their art are less valid if they did not attend college.

The people who participate in this system are often the people who correct others on the proper use of language and form. One reason for this is that college attaches a time and money value to a certain kind of language and acting (white, middle-upper class, etc). Under our capitalist system, to accept other ways of communicating is to devalue the cash value of the communication style learned in college.

College is the capitalist idea that you can build the perfect human being out of money. Money is pieces of paper with words written on them that survive only because of a dystopian mass hallucination that will one day fade.

If you don’t have the money, they’ll take you on as an indentured servant.

We must make mindlessly going to college as shameful as participating in any pyramid scheme.

The propaganda surrounding college remains the same even as the viability of college plummets. They will continue to sell the idea of college even as they gut their finances, loot their coffers, lay off teachers (minority teachers at highest risk of redundancy, of course), and strip their system to the bare minimum while increasing their prices.

I have met very few people who did not hate me, think I was ethically repugnant, or unhealthy (seeing me as an animal selected to die, incapable of survival), upon learning I don’t care for college.

The idea that college makes your thoughts more valid is repulsive. There is no magical college process that refines humans into superior beings, only people insecurely defending the huge amount of time and money they spent.

My thoughts are beautiful. They are not to be condescended to or exoticized. They are intelligent, but not in the way we are taught to view intelligence. They are powerful, but not the kind of power that manipulates and breaks apart others.

I did not participate in college. I left after self reflection lead me to the unshakeable conclusion that I could not participate nor survive in this system. College is the path of seeking privilege, and that is a path you cannot compromise on, because it asks for everything. It is like anorexia, like the societal standard of beauty, it is a limitless hunger. I would have lost everything good in me.

College is the indefinite suppression of your humanity.

Here’s a list of things that aren’t college: talking to human beings, being in the world,  reading a book that didn’t cost a hundred bucks, reading a book that you chose to read, learning at your own pace, learning exactly what you want to learn, making things right now instead of waiting on someone else’s timetable.

Note: This post doesn’t apply to everyone who goes to college. I also accept that not everyone has the same options and some people have to make hard decisions. We don’t always have a choice. This is targeted at people of privilege, not marginalized people. This is directed at the perfunctory, cookie-cutter, moralizing attendance of college. Most of all, this is directed at people who hate, whether overtly or subtly, people who don’t go to college.

If you ever think, if you’re ever so kind as to think, I like Porpentine’s writing, I like her game design, what she says, or something else she does–realize that nothing you admire in me came from college. With trivial exceptions, I have learned nothing about any subject whatsoever in any school in my life. I am entirely self-taught.

I am happy that I didn’t go to college.

14 thoughts on “college is the impulse that makes us hate homeless people

  1. faceless says:

    this was very good!

  2. Surd says:

    Thank you.

    Hatehatehate college. I’m on scholarship, but dorm bills + knowledge that I am in a place where people pay to be is creepy-confusing. Thousands of dollars. Millions of dollars. So much money it takes about a paragraph of bullshit writing to convince them to fly you off to a conference, like they’re pus gushing bills and all you have to do is let yourself get swept away. Saw a frat get paid to put on a party where men dressed like hunters and women went as animals.

    If I ever manage to stop being so shit at being human that I need a diploma to air freshener disguise that I’ve done fuck all, I am running.

  3. porpentine says:

    i’m glad it resonated with you

    Saw a frat get paid to put on a party where men dressed like hunters and women went as animals.

    how chilling, it’s rape culture theater

    good luck with being human…it is an important struggle

  4. Cynthia Cooper says:

    I went to college. It was a complete racket — I spent as much time in offices correcting bureaucratic mistakes as I did in class (yes, I CALCULATED it). The time I did spend in class was almost entirely wasted.

    I could have gained all the benefits I gained from college by spending a week in a library with a well-written reading list.

    The only class I learned anything in that I wouldn’t have otherwise was Poetry Workshop, and the only thing the professor did in that class was give us a framework for discussion.

    I’m going to be in debt for the rest of my life. Since I’m on permanent disability they legally cannot attempt to collect, but they’re very good at “losing” the paperwork that proves that. They’ve “lost” it and resumed the harassment three times now and there is nothing I can do but submit the same paperwork over and over again.

    There are professions that require intense training and certification to practice. One kind requires training you can’t even get at college (like fixing cars). The other kind you aren’t even allowed to start your training in until you’ve already completed college (like the sciences).

    Such. A. Freaking. SCAM.

  5. porpentine says:

    agreed, i’ve heard similar things from a lot of people and it’s awful

    dealing with the system is so overwhelmingly dehumanizing–for instance, they’ve reduced financial aid in California and are expecting people to pay back what they’ve been given, and there’s no way to appeal it or talk about it

  6. [...] I wrote here, “Under our capitalist system, to accept other ways of communicating is to devalue the cash value [...]

  7. [...] to get in (to say nothing of unofficial discrimination). They are supported by a culture which sells this bargain as desirable and denigrates those unable or unwilling to make it – which fills our conversations with Magdalen College traps designed to identify and punish the [...]

  8. Vincent says:

    I dropped out of Law school. College were unequivocally the worst years of my life.

    I was expected to comprehend a torrent of information that didn’t make any sense and memorize a series of facts that weren’t true. One day, a lecturer nonchallantly commented to the class “we live in a society of middle classes. Look around. Nobody is poor anymore”. Another time, another lecturer reffered to modern day North Africans as “the moors” without a hint of shame.

    I could never finish History of Law. I learnt nothing in that class. I didn’t learn about the systemic stripping of women’s civil rights after the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Catholic Church. I didn’t learn what year slavery was abolished in my country. We we never learnt anything regarding the political systems before our present one, in case anyone realized they were just as oppresive and just as insane. I learnt all those things in my own time.

    I was lectured about LGBT legislation by a lecturer who couldn’t understand or explain the concept of transgender while reading it from a book. I got up and gave the lecture for them. I didn’t feel like the right person to speak but no one else was going to speak.

    College students have a special kind of laugh. The only other place I’ve heard it is in the film Salo: 100 Days of Sodom. There’s a scene where one of the generals shoots a prisoner while telling a bad joke, at that moment all the other prisoners laugh exactly like college students.College almost killed my ability to think and feel.

  9. Jonathan M says:

    A brilliant piece of writing.

    I’ve been through the college machine. I’ve done an undergraduate degree, I’ve done postgraduate degrees, I’ve done research degrees. I’ve even taught at a university and done my part to groom the next generation of postgraduate suckers. Oh Yes! You too can work for something approaching minimum wage with no job security, no vacation time and no sick leave in the hope that you might one day luck into a proper job.

    While I read a lot of great books while at university, my one take home is that university is an institution and institutions are self-perpetuating lifeforms in their own right: They feed, they fight, they reproduce and they die. Part of that life-cycle is finding new ways to convince each generation of humans that they require these institutions in order to life and flourish and one of the weapons they deploy is the stigmatisation of people who exist outside of these institutions.

    How can you not have read Foucault?

    How can you not know how to pronounce Cholmondley?

    How can you not know which fork to use at dinner?

    How can you not know how to write?

    Universities also perpetuate themselves by moving into areas of human cultural flourishing and professionalising them. People used to be able to live as poets and critics but now the only way to make a living doing either of those things is by becoming a professor of poetry or literary theory. This is also increasingly true of fiction as more and more writers are sucked into the academic hierarchy to teach on MFA programmes that ensure that you learn the ‘right’ way to tell a story and the ‘right’ set of themes and styles.

    Congratulations on not being sucked into college, in this day and age being a non-college educated intellectual is an act of heroic resistance.

  10. porpentine says:

    these are extremely great comments, thanks everyone for sharing them

  11. Green says:

    This reminds me of a book that I read recently called Deschooling society written in 1971.

    It is by a guy called Ivan Illich, who also wrote a book called Tools for Convivality, which inspired Lee Felstein to create the Homebrew Computer Club, where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak met, etc.

    Sorry, every idea has been said before. Thank you for saying it so well.

  12. porpentine says:

    Mm, yeah, people have been rejecting this idea for a while, it’s just important for me to say it, for me, because it’s something that’s been done to me personally and I want to expel it. And I want to make it clear where I stand. :>

  13. Gullinbirsti says:

    “Note: This post doesn’t apply to everyone who goes to college. I also accept that not everyone has the same options and some people have to make hard decisions. We don’t always have a choice. This is directed at the perfunctory, generic, moralizing attendance of college. Most of all, this is directed at people who hate, whether overtly or subtly, people who don’t go to college.”

    If it wasn’t for that part I would be so mad at you. I completely agree with your view and I must say, the things I did to learn without paying were the ones most dear to me. I attended college and I can’t say I didn’t see what you saw but not everywhere. I did not enjoy the time or money I spent in college but I enjoyed a small number of people I met.