University Schematic

I’ve been imagining a schematic that orders work at the university, which would distribute scholars into two orders. The first order consciously participates in history where they act-out a phase in the overcoming of nature. These virtuous scholars are always in the process of realizing a new superiority of civilization over previous (more primitive) conditions. This action is mimetic and corresponds with what James Frazer called sympathetic magic. Scholars of this order mimic the signatures of cunning Odysseus and wise King Solomon. The symbolic mandates of history become their own, and they participate directly in the mimetic current. History is the networked channels of mimetic simulation, like when the French revolutionaries mimicked the virtuous Roman patricians. History is an excess where the present is exulted over the past, and today’s excess is in the glory of technology. First-order scholars participate directly in this historical glory, registering themselves symbolically as the technocrats who conquer and cultivate as Charlemagne did before them. They are motivated by the pretension that their knowledge improves life throughout the empire. This virtuous ambition possesses them through an excessive superego. The ambition is typically domination, freedom, or luxury, though these goals are inevitably confused. The virtuous actions may satisfy such goals, but they also release further unstable excesses. There are links between the epic cycles of conquest, the economic cycles of markets, and the pathological cycles of psychology. This virtuous life generates excesses of testosterone, radiation, fat, CO2, labor, housing, debt… and these obscure shadows are the objects of second-order scholars, who investigate the collateral effects of mimetic historical action. When a beast lunges through the water, there are diverse counter movements in the surrounding wildlife and environment. In the same way, all the teeming agents of industry leave in their wake a torrent of unforeseeable accidents which accumulate as a dimension of unconscious forces manifested as ticks, fetishes, shudders, ravings…  the collateral effects of historical action. This accidental flux of pathology silently accumulates, exerting pressure on perception and speech. Where the first order scholars participate directly in historical mimesis, the second order investigates its unforeseen collateral effects – history and its doubles.  Is this pair – the agent and the accident – not the binary cipher or signature of the university as it reaches its limit?  Is this not the naked bones of the institution now revealed at its endgame?

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