December 13, 2017

Academia, where intellectual incest and madness walk hand-in-hand

Charles II of Spain Madness Intellectual Incest

American colleges have increasingly gone mad. It’s from intellectual incest in institutions that hire only people who reinforce their own views.

If you’re a European history major, you know about sanctioned incest within the royal families of Europe. Since theirs was a small community, they repeatedly married cousins, until a very small number of people often shared an identical gene pool. The illness and madness that resulted from this practice sometimes changed history and invariably brought misery to those countries whose leaders were incapable of good rule.

The picture above is of Charles II of Spain, who lived from 1661-1700. He was the last member of the Spanish Hapsburg royal family. You can always spot them in portraits because of the infamous “Hapsburg jaw,” a malformation due to centuries of inbreeding.

Poor Charles didn’t just end up with that jaw and the massive nose. After all, when you’re a king, being ugly is not really a problem. What is a big problem is severe mental instability. Wikipedia has a précis that neatly identifies the many infirmities under which Charles labored (footnotes omitted):

Charles was physically and mentally disabled and infertile, possibly due to this massive inbreeding. Due to the deaths of his half brothers, he was the last member of the male Spanish Habsburg line.

Charles did not learn to speak until the age of four nor to walk until eight, and was treated as virtually an infant until he was ten years old. His jaw was so badly deformed (an extreme example of the so-called Habsburg jaw) that he could barely speak or chew. Fearing the frail child would be overtaxed, his caretakers did not force Charles to attend school. The indolence of the young Charles was indulged to such an extent that at times he was not expected to be clean. When his half-brother Don Juan José of Austria, an illegitimate son of Philip IV, obtained power by exiling the queen mother from court, he covered his nose and insisted that the king at least brush his hair.

The beautifully rendered family tree, below, gives you some idea of just how few genes poor Charles had to draw upon (click on image to enlarge). You can see that the problem with incest starts at the top — Joanna of Castile, the Hapsburg matriarch whose genes were locked into the family’s tight breeding pool, was known as Joanna the Mad.

Charles II, of course, was not the only famous product of inbreeding. Queen Victoria had ten children, all of whom were married to the first tier of royalty throughout Europe. Their children’s children then married each other, and so on into the next generation. One of the most unhappy byproducts of Queen Victoria’s genetic dominance in the royal houses of Europe was hemophilia. Women carry it; men inherit it. In Russia, Alexei Nikolaevich, son of Nicholas II and Alexandra, had the bad luck to inherit hemophilia. His parents’ intense focus on his well-being, which led to his mother’s reliance upon the sinister Grigori Rasputin, created factionalism at the Court that weakened the monarchy just as communism was becoming ascendant as a violent political force.

Portugal, Spain’s next door neighbor, had its fair share of incest induced madness:

Maria of Portugal came from a long line of entangled relatives. She married her uncle Pedro in 1778, and their son went on to marry his aunt Benedita. By some twisted inbreeding logic, Pedro’s daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece were all the same person. Maria was known to her people as Maria the Mad, and suffered from extreme mental disorders likely the result of her shallow gene pool. Her son Joseph and his wife Benedita could not conceive a child because of their close relations, and Joseph eventually died young from smallpox.

Another cursed mad monarch was the beautiful Elizabeth of Austria:

Elisabeth of Austria was another royal court member whose family was entrenched with inbreeding and mental disorders. In fact, she openly believed her lineage was cursed by madness. Her mother, who married her cousin, was one of Prince Maximillian of Bavaria’s 13 kids. Elisabeth married Franz Joseph, and the two had a disastrous marriage. Elisabeth hated being in the royal family and suffered from several mental disorders like extreme anxiety, obsession with weight and diet, and eventually had a bad nervous breakdown.

Crown Prince Rudolf was Elizabeth’s only male child with Franz Joseph. Rudolf was, apparently, a charming and intelligent young man. Had he lived, he might have been a counterweight to Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II, a factor that might have staved off the First World War. Without WWI, there might have been no Russian revolution, no Hitler, no Cold War, etc. Of course, there could have been different horrible catastrophes in the 20th century; just not those specific horrible catastrophes.

As it was, Rudolf, with the weight of centuries of incest weighing down upon him, took his teenage mistress to his hunting lodge. There, he murdered her and then shot himself. That was the end of the great Austro-Hungarian empire and the beginning of the 20th century nightmare.

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Genetic incest is an ugly thing. So is intellectual incest.

In academia, especially in the liberal arts, diversity is limited to skin color and sexual orientation. Intellectual diversity is non-existent. Moreover, universities only hire those they have produced, so the ideology gets more and more concentrated from one academic generation to the next.

Just as with genetic incest, when it comes to intellectual incest, that way lies madness. Here are a few examples of incestuous insanity in America’s institutions of higher education:

You’d better watch your mouth if you’re a man:

NYU plans to hold a “Linguistic Prejudice, Linguistic Privilege” forum tomorrow, claiming “differences in language use among social groups have led to discrimination against speakers who diverge from the dominant group.”

[snip]

Thus, if you are part of the “dominant group” of speakers in the United States, you are privileged. One such group is men, according to Professor Lisa Davidson.

Professor Davidson’s section of the forum is titled, “Talking While Female: The Science and Censure of Women’s Voices.”

I’m not sure what the following summary means. It’s about something, something, phallic, something, queer, something, something sexual:

This article interrogates a psychoanalytically inflected strain of anti-social queer theory that in privileging refusal and negation, views as paradigmatic of ‘queerness’ the destructive, annihilative aspects in (queer) sex. In this view, sexuality is a product of the unconscious, thus irreducible to gender, such that gender is irrelevant to (and indeed hinders) understandings of desire. Informed by feminism, which views gender as crucial to any theory on sexuality, I expose that which ‘sexual negation’ masks through this very disavowal – that of gender and the body itself. I argue that subtending the figural representation of queer/ness is a deep-seated, albeit disguised, masculinism that, through negation, works to re-centre and re-virilise (gay) men’s sexual economies. I take up Butler’s lesbian phallus to de-idealise and thus challenge this privileging of the penis operating within this strain of queer – as only phallic sexual economies can, it seems, deliver the very annihilation we (all) seek.

Sometimes a golf scorecard is just a golf scorecard — or sometimes it’s a sneaky part of men’s sexist dominance over women:

Because of the taken‐for‐granted, common sense position, it is often difficult to examine what is naturalized in our culture. Semiotic analysis is one method in which scholars may apply to common everyday practices revealing subtleties about what our culture perpetuates and values. Golf is no exception, for the game contains naturalized phenomenon privy to examination and representative of larger social issues. This essay contains a semiotic analysis of the language used on golf course scorecards. Specifically, the tee box nomenclatures stated on the scorecards traditionally designate a location from which women should tee off; however, for men, this designation is determined by ability. Thus, men are offered more semantic choices, while women are instructed to tee off from the same location as junior golfers (the red or forward tees) regardless of their abilities. Further, symbolic decoding of scorecards represents “men’s continued attempts to retain power and privilege over women” (Messner, 1988, p. 207) in the sport of golf, while indexical decoding disengages hegemony deeply rooted within the game of golf.

And this just goes to show you that, when you thought Tranimals were a copycat brand of Garanimal shoes, you were really, really wrong:

This review essay surveys the current state of tranimal historiography, paying specific attention to Jens Rydström’s Sinners and Citizens: Bestiality and Homosexuality in Sweden, 1880–1950, several essays in the edited collection Centering Animals in Latin American History, and Leah DeVun’s GLQ article “Animal Appetites.” Ranging from the medieval to the modern, these texts offer a glimpse at an emerging branch of tranimal studies rooted in historical methodology and analysis.

It might interest you to know that the Trangender Studies Quarterly, from which the following mess of incestuous intellectual insanity comes, is a Duke University project. The same Duke University that was once a reputable institution in which people, a long, long time ago, actually learned things in the liberal arts department:

Like transgender studies, literary translation has historically suffered marginalization within the academy and has only recently become established. The marginalization of both, it seems, stems from rigid binaries—namely, the binaries of male/female and man/woman in the context of the transgender, and the binaries of author/translator, original/translation, and source language/target language in the context of translation. By applying the deconstructive work of transgender and queer theory that undertakes the project of destabilizing cisgender, heteronormative, patriarchal systems, we can dismantle these binaries to reconceptualize the translator as the translatxr—a trans*, nonbinary, or genderqueer subjectivity—and translation as translatxrsation, a nonbinary embodied practice with the potential to produce multilingual, decolonizing strategies and discourses. Such a practice actively resists the erasure and colonization of texts by and about trans*, trans, nonbinary, or genderqueer persons and lives. This article looks to the work of Chilean writer and performance artist Pedro Lemebel’s urban chronicles to reveal the antinormalizing, decolonizing practice of becoming-translation. The article concludes with the translatxrsation of Lemebel’s performance poem “Manifiesto,” to reveal the embodiment of the translatxrsation.

I think I’ll stop now. I’m having some kind of mental crisis dealing with words such as translatxr, translatxrsation, and antinormalizing. What’s even worse, much worse, is that I actually know what cisgender, heteronormative, nonbinary, and genderqueer mean. No mentally healthy person should have those words fixed, with meaning, in her brain.

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Although the intellectual incest and its resulting insanity are as painfully obvious as the Hapsburg chin or the Romanov hemophilia, the universities are not backing away from their practice of constantly returning to the same “intellectual gene pool” when they make their hiring decisions. Instead, thanks in significant part to Intersectionality, another monstrosity that could only result from severe intellectual inbreeding, universities are looking to spread further their incestuous intellectual decline.

Rod Drehrer reports that the gender studies crowd is going after STEM programs now. Purdue has hired Donna Riley to head its school of Engineering Education. If you think an Engineering Education sounds like a nuts and bolts thing, all about numbers and physics, and that it therefore cannot yield to intellectual incest, boy, have you got another guess coming. When it comes to Riley, a lesbian who taught at (surprise!) Smith for 13 years, you’ll see that she has an interesting resume (emphasis mine):

I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups.

In EGR 330 (Engineering and Global Development), we critically evaluate past and current trends in appropriate and sustainable technology. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism and colonialism, and the role technology plays in movements that counter these forces. Gender is a key thread running through the course in examining issues of water supply and quality, food production and energy.

In EGR 205 (Science, Technology and Ethics), we consider questions such as who decides how science and engineering are done, who can participate in the scientific enterprise and what problems are legitimately addressed within these disciplines and professions. We take up racist and colonialist projects in science, as well as the role of technology, culture and economic systems in the drive toward bigger, faster, cheaper and more automated production of goods. A course theme around technology and control provides for exploration of military, information, reproductive and environmental applications. Using readings from philosophy, science and technology studies, and feminist and postcolonial science studies, we explore these topics and encounter new models of science and engineering that are responsive to ethical concerns.

Maybe the bridges Riley’s students build will work and maybe they won’t. Somehow I keep having images of her engineering grads building bridges that work just like this one:

There’s nothing wrong with looking afield for new ideas. Indeed, the whole hysteria about cultural appropriation represents a dreadful effort to close, rather than open, the Western mind. The most exciting new ways of thinking often occur at the boundaries, when tired, old ideas meet unexpected new ones.

Riley’s goals, however, do not seem directed to crossing those boundaries. Instead, after you read all the material Drehrer gathered at his post, you might think, as I do, that her ultimate goal is to negate entirely the Western world’s magnificent engineer accomplishments because men, mostly white men, had the audacity to imagine, design, and build them.

There is nothing good to be said about incest. There’s a reason that, outside of Muslim societies, which are too tribal to abandon the safety of cousin marriage, almost all societies have banned incest. Once or twice, maybe, you can get away with it. However, if you turn it into a regular thing, the results are invariably madness, retardation, physical debility and, often, sterility. Whether one talks about people, animals, or the realm of ideas, an infusion of the new is an absolute necessity to keep them robust and vital.

America’s academic institutions have allowed themselves to become hidebound, self-reflecting monoliths of progressive thinking. In the liberal arts programs, they regularly churn out indoctrinated students who promptly return to the academic mother ship to teach the next generation. When hiring, they seek only those people who think just as they do. Thanks to this refusal to open themselves to new or contrary ideas, America’s colleges and universities are not just intellectually bankrupt, they are frighteningly insane.

Moreover, as Purdue’s decision to hire Riley demonstrates, because the same self-referential people have taken over the administrative offices at these schools, their self-destructive behavior, rather than stopping in liberal arts departments, is now spilling over into the formerly immune STEM programs. Given the incestuously deformed ideas emanating from these institutions, pulling their federal funds would surely be a mercy killing.

About Bookworm 591 Articles

Bookworm came late to conservativism but embraced it with passion. She’s been blogging since 2004 about anything that captures her fancy — and that’s usually politics. Her blog’s motto is “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.”