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SARA J. LONDON

  • Writer's pictureLondon

Entry 15: Fires, Fires, Everywhere (but Not a Lot to Think)



I started following this douchebag on Twitter because I wanted to write for his new psychoanalytic journal – I'll refrain from referring to him by name, just in case that ever comes to fruition. I'm not a huge fan of the medium, but it's one of the many ways that a freelancer can increase their audience (and consequently the amount of money in their bank accounts), so I must acquiesce to the evils of social media, even if only through a software that schedules all my posts for me. And rarely do I sit and pontificate about opinions I see or hear on social media, as for the most part, I like to live in the self-righteous delusion that I'm intellectually superior for constructing my world without the ill-informed, emotionally-fueled virtue signaling of the masses.


Today, I'm not intellectually superior. Today, I myself might also be a douchebag.


So I commence my daily notification check on Twitter, which I do each day, hoping that one day I'll either be greeted with another tweet asking for an interview from a Wall Street Journal editor or a DM from a literary agent desperate to know more about my novel (my own delusion – but I live in it happily). And on my Twitter homepage, I see this guy I followed posting tweet after tweet about psychoanalytic social justice, popular esoteric academic jargon, radicalizing and de-stigmatizing queer racial heteronormative pedagogies, faux-progressive Marxist ramblings – oh Karl, how you'd mourn what we've become! – turning infantile neurosis into an intersectional, political, sociological Jackson Pollack painting. "In order to determine Freud’s greatest contribution," quoth the douchebag, "you’d have to resolve the status of psychoanalytic knowledge, which is in fact an epistemological riddle." Honey, the only person whose status of knowledge (psychoanalytic or otherwise) appears to be unresolved here is yours. Please, have a glass of water. Go for a walk. Pet your dog.


Why this bothered me so much that I need to write down my thoughts, I'm not sure yet. But I bet we'll get there.


I'm a recovering New School student. Like Icarus, I flew too close to the neoliberal sun, and it damn near singed off my eyebrows. I have a deep personal aversion to talking about social justice in a classroom that most students pay $60,000 just to sit in (which is why I ended up in public school – go Bobcats!). The hypocrisy of academia nearly drove me out of it. Even through my Master's degree, I had trouble sitting in on classes about how broken each and every system is when I was sitting in the system myself. Almost like patting yourself on the back for seeing that the house is on fire, yelling to others in different language about the urgency of the matter, yet you continue to lay on the couch, watching the flames consume you. You're also paying $60,000 a year to live there.


And the guy who warned you about the fire in the first place? He gets paid to do that. His house is not on fire, and in fact, it's a pretty nice place – a mansion, for the sake of the metaphor. He yells at the same volume no matter how large or small the fire is, and he invented the language you're yelling in. He berates you for not seeing it sooner. Your house was on fire! And it could spread to the neighbors! What's wrong with you? You should be ashamed of yourself. You're so guilt-ridden about for your ignorance that the feelings overflow, morphing into sadness, fear, and rage. Soon, you're the one shouting to others about their various fires. Yelling at them in a language they can't speak. But you're still sitting on the couch, just like the guy who started it all.


This brings us to Twitter douchebag. See, I knew we'd get there!


The voices of those yelling carry into the streets. Soon passersby are hearing calls for alarm, frantically looking around, seeing fires. The fires alight the sky, filling the area with smoke – it becomes confusing, overwhelming, and frightening. Suddenly, you don't know where the fires are, who's in a house and who's in a mansion. You hear bits and pieces of the language that you can make out, and you repeat those words over and over in a frantic frenzy. All you know is that you didn't see the fires, and you feel ashamed, furious, and overcome. And you scream.


Sure, this is a bit hyperbolic. But it's for effect. Vivid imagery sticks in your mind better. You see where I'm going with this?


Fires do exist. All kinds of fires – shitty NYCHA housing, weapons tech companies embezzling money into the federal military budget, the cryptocurrency scam, or that orange guy who lived in the White House for four years. Stuff that I think people should do things about, especially that guy in the mansion with a big fire extinguisher hanging on his wall (he's the real douchebag of the story). But what I think gets lost in translation is the message. These words, these bits and pieces of difficult academic concepts, get disseminated into the public like a bad game of telephone. People say words that they've spent 20 years researching to people who spend three months learning about them in a class, and pass those words along to people who only know them from Ms. Merriam Webster. They're used flippantly, dismissively, angrily, sanctimoniously. And that's why I'm sitting here writing about it. It makes my blood curdle.


I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these issues extend far beyond Twitter, but I've already wasted enough time writing this near-comprehensible rant that no one will read, so I'll save that for a different day. I just get so irritated when I see these fascinated, delicate concepts, waggled around like a man's phallus in a pissing contest. A way for uncomplicated people to complicate questions – a way to alienate, gaslight, and gate-keep some of the most important conversations for societal growth. A tool for splitting, a tool for identifying with the aggressor. A tool for self-aggrandizement to a douchebag on Twitter.


Don't get me wrong, psychoanalytic knowledge is an epistemological riddle at times. But who the fuck reading this knows what that means? And why do they need to? Don't worry about that fire – it's not spreading, and it's so minuscule that it has no bearing on your life. I can barely roast a marshmallow on it. Go put out your own fires, even if you don't tell anyone else. As the great, sexy Joe Burrow said, "Work in silence." And for God's sakes, never follow someone on Twitter just to get to their publication. I've learned my lesson, that's for sure.

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