A special bonus post in celebration of the Happy Academic New Year; all images (except one) are from the brilliant Scarfolk Council (scarfolk.blogspot.com), which you MUST visit forthwith if you have not already done so.
A liberal arts higher education is not only worthwhile and a valuable and value-adding investment but verily priceless, beyond measure and prediction. Advanced reading and research has immediate and long-term “learning outcomes” that are critical, creative, and constructive. It’s not just those awesome three to four years of speculative fictioneering. It’s about what they’re imagining towards too: preparing resources and resourcefulness for future resilience, resistance, and refuge. For a future that conjoins individual and shared consolation, compassion, connection, and comfort. For the unknown and unknowable. The foundation for lifelong learning, good citizenship of the res publica, and contribution to a peaceful, sustaining and sustainable, common wealth.
Those three to four years are a theoretical and practical learning and the start of a lived practice of SF: Donna Haraway’s “science fiction, speculative feminism, science fantasy, speculative fabulation, science fact, and also, string figures” (Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, 2016: 10). Or rather, not the start but a continuation; and adding another SF, “subversive fabulousness”: all the questioning, playing together, imagination, marvelling delight, wonder and whimsy, and pure unadulterated joyous geeky love of knowledge—conjoined philosophy and philology—that is so often knocked out of people before they get to university or, worse, once here. Along with caring and carefulness and mutual aid—for which the follies of selfish cut-throat competitiveness are not a viable alternative—in a sustainable biodiverse hospitable world that has, or at least is still capable of imagining, a future.
Let’s liberate the liberal arts from pseudo-/neo-liberalism. We need more string figures at university. (I’m at a Fringe festival right now and hereby promise at least sock puppets and cooperative games in classes I’m teaching next year.)
Because the alternatives aren’t unimaginable.