Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, May 06, 2005

We used to go to college to improve our minds

I've heard of Lil' Kim, a rapper convicted for obstruction of justice. But did you know that a professor at Syracuse University is teaching an entire class (for a grade) yet, about the lyrics to her song? I didn't until I read this article from Katherine Ernst. here's what Professor Thomas had to say about this exercise in higher education:

As he told the New York Daily News in November: “It’s about her lyricism and the lyrical persona . . . new notions of sexual consciousness, sexual politics in her rhymes, how she deals with societies based on male domination in her rhymes and societies based on rigid gender categories and constructs.” (Phew!) In other words, Lil’ Kim is a hip-hop Virgil guiding students through the wonderful world of Gender/Womyn’s studies—and her Dante is not some Birkenstock-clad granola prof but rather a cool dude known as “G” to his students. After all, as Thomas wrote on, “Kim’s whole system of rhymes radically redistributes power, pleasure and privilege, always doing the unthinkable, embracing sexuality on her kind of terms.”
Ernst kindly provides the words to one of Lil' Kim's songs, which I can't reproduce here because of my self-imposed rule against disgusting stuff. Suffice to say that it involves feces eating, and you're pretty much there. Ernst has the perfect, pithy statement about how we arrived at the point where a formerly reputably university takes people's money so that a professor can deconstruct obscene popular songs:
This past (and future) Lil’ Kim course of study at private and respected Syracuse University represents the sad arrival of the inevitable. Deconstructionism, coupled with academe’s ongoing extreme “progressivism,” keeps bearing rotten fruit. When a philosophy that sees everything (no matter how low, base, or silly) as a text takes root in an environment that considers knee-jerk, America-hating dinosaur Noam “Zionist Conspiracy” Chomsky and the aforementioned Ward Churchill as living, breathing proof of its covenant with tolerance and enlightenment, it should come as no surprise that Lil’ Kim 101 and 102 exist.
Ernst not only discusses how we got here, but also what it means in economic terms to the kids who graduate from these programs:
Years ago an employer would see a B.A. in English from a prestigious university as a sign that a potential hire could read, write, analyze difficult texts, and know a thing or two about the accumulated wisdom of Western literature. Now the employer has to wonder if the degree means our potential hire can tell us how lines like “I got that bomb ass c--k, a good ass shot/With hardcore flows to keep a nigga d-- rock” function to keep those repressive men in their place. In short, our potential hire will soon find himself digging further into the want ads. Degrees are cheapened when true classics become a footnote, and MTV stars become literary giants. Poor William Shakespeare. If only he had thought to bling-bling his sonnets up a bit.
I've been wondering for some time now why we bother to send kids to college, at enormous expense, for a Liberal Arts education. The Liberal Arts education used to be seen as a way of improving young people before setting them free in the world. Its purpose was to inform them about man's highest aspirations and greatest thoughts. That same education seems so utterly pointless now, since Deconstructionism has denied us our intellectual/moral aspirations. Everything is equal, whether it's Lil' Kims' rap or Shakespeare's poetry, or Pilgrim's Progress. I'm hoping that, in a decade, when it's my childrens' turn to start thinking about college, I'll be able to accept that a college education in anything but the hard sciences has some redeeming value. And it's not just the money -- I think classes such as this one at Syracuse pervert people and degrade them. I aim to uplift my children, not to corrupt them, and would be loath to see them attend an institution that offers this kind of thing.