L0020546 Paul Richer, 'Gonflement du cou chez un hysterique'

We attend university with the well-advertised end goal of scholarly acclaim and financial security, and right there we fail because that advertised goal is not necessarily true. Ideals of success lighting our eyes we enter the halls of academia. And we fail. And we fail. And we fail. And all this failing takes a long time and insufferable energy and overshadows our worlds. A primary lesson studious student learns is that the “toxic positivity of contemporary life” is just that, toxic (3). Failing to realize that failure is at the core of learning and quality living is an ultimate failure.

Halbertsam shouts out echoes of failure with her statement that the “publish-or-perish pressure of academic life keeps [students] tethered to conventional knowledge production and its well-traveled byways” (6). The point of going to college is to learn to think in exceptional ways, and to do so for one’s self. To remain in the trenches of all academics that have gone before is not success. Paying kabillions of dollars in tuition and fees, and going into debt, perhaps for decades, to be a cut cookie is worse than failure, it’s ignorant. Not only for students but also for society.

Knowledge of these multiplicities of failings is what push us, if we survive, into the very scary world of acclaim. Being successful, for all its blown up reputation, is another failure. For having reached the pinnacle, there is ahead a void.

The mind that is not active atrophies. Entropic leveling, the universe’s way of returning everything to space dust, cannot be denied. We will not die and be stars twinkling in the great ceiling. Our lives, our dreams of glory and memorialization, will blow away in the wind.

Freely blowing in the wind is a satisfying ending, (especially compared to the confines of a life-sized box ten feet underground). Failure is awesome, it is not pretentious or false it is true. To be abashed and “too paralyzed to move forward” (Glasser) is the ultimate failure. Eventually we will have to budge, and hopefully that will be into “subversive [intellectualism]” (19). To “Revel in difference, Fight exploitation, Decode ideology, Invest in resistance” (21) is the pinnacle of failure.

If one were mostly successful, especially as defined in the advertised world, they would likely be totally boring or unbearably priggish. Thank failure for humor, character and fascinating discourse. Hallelujah. But, failure can be hard to deal with. So, well, damn it too.