The New Yorker, if it didn’t take so much time to read, would be on my magazine list. I’m primarily a book man, and there’s so little time these days that magazines seem mere ephemera. However, someone at work pointed me to a story on the end of the English major that was really about the end of the humanities. It was most disturbing. Making the case that college students really prefer the humanities, they nevertheless go to STEM because that, and business, are the only place to find jobs. In a world where work increasingly demands more hours a day, these young people take employment that kills their souls in order to keep their bodies alive. The “starving artist” is no joke. Society has deemed humanity unimportant.
What happens when we cease to be human? Artificial intelligence and robots and capitalism. It’s a cold world where only numbers matter. I’m not a great one for metrics and “evidence-based” humanities. No, Romanticism is not dead. The world where imagination reigns and Adam Smith is not even a shiny shekel in his great-grandfather’s blue eye. How do I know it was blue? Imagination. You see, I’ve written a few novels (unsuccessfully), and I know a few (very few) colleagues who do as well. Mainly I know that because their novels find publishing houses that know how to get them in the public eye. I jealously guard those friendships because I’m a Romantic. I tilt the electronic windmills telling me all of life is statistics and figures. No, those slowly spinning blades are liable to chop your head off, if you let them.
My friends often express surprise when I reveal that I’m a Romantic. Books should be evidence enough. Ideally, work would allow us to bring our gifts to the table—or more accurately, screen. It would find a way of saying, “be human here because we really mean what we say about diversity and inclusion.” Instead, evaluations are metrics-based. The numbers. The bottom line. At moments such as these, I throw off my hat and let my thoughts run free. I daydream about the books I’ve read and those I’ve written. I imagine life as a place to truly be human. The humanities are all about understanding what it means to be authentically human. And let me tell you something—it’s not all about numbers. In fact, if I had it all to do over again, I think I would be an English major. With no regrets.
2 thoughts on “Human Humanities”