I walked out of Academic Literature because, like many other places, I didn't belong. Walk into a bachelor degree literature class and you will find artistically inclined kids, bohemians and direction-less young men like me, who have no idea what to do with their lives. Walk into a master degree literature seminar and you will find nerds who sucked at math, analytical minds who understand the most complex abstract schemes without being able to create a story and your odd philosophy department reject, who took literature to feel superior. That, my friends, is the Academy. The people who will decide which books will be on your children's curriculum in the future. For once in my life, I was happy to not belong.
I should have tried for an MFA in creative writing instead. It might not be too late for that, but it's too late to recuperate those four years of my life where I labored over a project who lost its meaning to me by the day. So what's my problem with academia? First, the people. They are part philologists, part sociologists, completely desperate for your admiration. The goal of the common graduate literature student is to find a niche, away from the world. I think I met less than twenty percent of master degree students, actually interested into literature. They liked philosophy, sociology, your random discipline, but works of fiction themselves were de-constructed before understood. The point is to say: "I'm smart" before saying "I get it".
What I'm trying to say is that academic literature in the twentieth century has taken a lot of power and push fiction at a very interesting place. Academia has locked down good taste and intellect on literature, so it chopped the production in two camps: the commercial (often attached to genre fiction) and the literary. You don't need to take classes to understand literature. Merely to use your brain and your common sense. Some writers tend to be very complex, but nothing is out of reach if you don't write with an elitist purpose. Nothing infuriates me more than those novels written for academic posterity. So they can be passed on and on, and scholars can say "this is such a clever novel" without even saying why. Because it's rewarding to be "in the know", in that special group.
There are no reasons why there should be a "thinking" literature and a "cheap" one. Every literature should be thinking literature. I know it sounds bold and pretentious to say that, but let me explain myself. Have you ever went to a Bible study? This is one of the most interpreted books and yet it's not easy and it's in a language so far away, like many "classics". If your average literary novel would get discussion groups based on the Bible study model, literature would be at the reach of everyone. There is nothing that cannot be explained, just novels that aim at different groups of people. There is no special knowledge that academic literature holds. It's just one of those country clubs where members work for members and keep things in the family. Where assholes like Georges Bataille are writing stories only to be psychoanalyzed, you're playing a weirdly incestuous game, only to pay him attention. Fiction carries ideas, ideas don't carry fiction. If you build your story out of ideas, you end up not telling a story at all.
But maybe I don't get it. Maybe I just don't belong
*picks up guitar*
I should have done an MFA...I should have done an MFA...