It turns out that the maker of the cartoon is Paul Ennis’s roommate. Here’s a follow-up video:
What is it, I wonder, that generates this sort of frightening type of academic? Is it that we live in such utter poverty in grad school, facing the very real possibility of not getting a job (read Mark Fisher’s recent brilliant post on joblessness), and that we don’t get very much respect for our work outside academia (“would you like fries with that”), or, for that matter, within academia. In the absence of any stability and economic capital, it seems that we become entirely bound up with struggles for symbolic capital. This generates a frightening conceptual persona that strives to situate everyone else in a position of ignorance, stupidity, and naivete so as to affirm their own self-worth and value.
The remarks of the German in the two videos are hilarious. Why stop with reading Heidegger in the original German? Why not also add Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Ancient Egyptian, cuneiform, etc., etc., etc.? The German in the videos enacts a logic of infinite debt. Had the French character been a German reader as well, we can expect that the German character would have made a case for Portuguese and Spanish as well. Had the French character read Hegel’s Science of Logic, Phenomenology and Encyclopedia in German, we can expect that the German character would argue that Hegel’s early papers are crucial to an understanding of Hegel and that none of this can be understood without reading Pseudo-Dionysius, Plotinus, and Aristotle in their original languages. It never ends and this is because the debate isn’t really about qualifications, but about upsmanship. The irony is that the German character seems to miss the French character’s point that he lacks similar qualifications with respect to activism. For the German character it is only texts that are real, only a canon that he defines. The activists are just ignorant dupes in need of being taught by the scholar.
Mel likes to poke fun at us here in the blogosphere that get in these debates. She just can’t understand these sort of “boy games”. She’s got a point. Many of these debates seem to literally be about elk locking horns in displays of masculinity, having little to do with really understanding things or thought.