The spread of the Han Plague (a.k.a. China Flu), has led nearly all universities in the US to suspend ordinary operations and move to online classes only. The vast majority of students have been sent home during this time. And, inasmuch as universities today are massively overconcerned with student health and well being, it would be no surprise to see such practices continue into the Fall, even if we are fortunate enough to make progress in containing the disease.
Depending on how long such a state of things lasts, a number of factors might converge that allow for new possibilities to emerge:
1) Kids will be watching their lectures at home. Parents rarely get the chance to see an example of the product that they may be paying upwards of $100,000 over 4 or 5 years for. They want to know what is happening. The parents who hitherto trusted that their children were learning important things will stumble on to the painful realization that their children are being served premasticated ideological tripe for an education. They will see with their own eyes that reading Tony the Tow Truck through the lens of deconstruction is a waste of time–and indeed, not even the most stunning waste that the average college student encounters. The parents will see more clearly than before that there is a massive disproportion between the credential being offered and the skills or knowledge being acquired.
2) Students will discover that, without the whole “college experience” that coincides with their courses, there is very little incentive to continue going to college. That, and they will see the economy crashing down all around them. Suddenly, work may be become a much more pressing necessity.
3) Children and parents will both come to realize, more clearly than before, that a college education is not necessarily a good thing, and that for a large number of jobs, certainly should not be required.
4) Smaller universities will face the unsavory prospect of shuttering their doors due to decreased attendance. Larger universities will “tighten their belts” and fire large numbers of professors. Online courses can have much larger student to professor ratios. The logic of this points to seeing courses begin to be concentrated at Ivy League institutions and the like. These massive online courses will still be a disappointment compared to a real classroom experience, but with prices lowered on that account, and with the elite still in search of credentials to justify their elite status, these mega online universities will have plenty of customers.
Enter the Bronze Age University
Here is where things get interesting. Among the professors who lose their jobs, there may be a few enterprising die-hard life long learners who genuinely believe in a classical education who will rebuild a few new dissident or classical schools out of the rubble. There will be a new demand or thirst for something real. Room for a new kind of university becomes possible. Here, I will outline a draft of a Bronze Age curriculum; afterwards, I will defend the curriculum and meet a few objections that I anticipate serious people might make.
The motto of the Bronze Age University will come from Nietzsche’s untimely meditation on history: books will be chosen on “whose title page should be inscribed ‘A Fighter Against His Time.’ Satisfy your souls on Plutarch and dare to believe in yourselves when you believe in his heroes. A hundred such men educated against the modern fashion, that is, men who have ripened and are used to the heroic, could now silence forever the whole noisy pseudo-education of our time.” (UDHL #6)
No more than 100 hundred students will be accepted during any given school year.
Each morning (Mon-Fri) students will be required to conquer a challenging obstacle course that will vary each day in its physical demands. Some of the courses will require a great deal of teamwork and leadership.
We will use a semester system, and each course below is for one semester. Most courses are one book or on as few books as possible. These are just the required courses; electives will be offered in accordance with the expertise of our instructors.
Introduction to Nutrition
Introduction to Sun and Steel (time in the sun and weightlifting technique)
Introduction to Basic Wilderness Skills
Grek History 1: Herodotus’ History
Grek History 2: Thucydides’ History
Grek History 3: Xenophon’s Hellenika and Anabasis
Grek History 4: Plutarch’s Greek Lives
Roman History 1: Livy and Polybius
Roman History 2: Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars
Roman History 3: Tacitus’ Annals
Roman History 4: Plutarch’s Roman Lives
Introduction to the Crisis of Modernity: Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Leo Strauss’ Natural Right and History; Bronze Age Pervert’s Bronze Age Mindset
Ancient Philosophy 1: Heraclitus’ fragments and excerpts from Aristotle and Nietzsche on Heraclitus
Ancient Philosophy 2: Aristotle’s Politics and Rhetoric
Ancient Philosophy 3: Plato’s Laws
Ancient Philosophy 4: Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (yes, is ancient)
Modern Heroes: Content varies; may include excerpts, biographies, and primary source materials on figures like Pizarro, Cortes, Columbus, Ian Smith, Mike Hoare, etc.
World Literature: Content varies; may include Celine, Mishima, Junger, Meyer, Saloman, Bacon, Shakespeare, Goethe, Maupassant, Stendhal, etc.
Womyn’s Studies: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice; Camille Paglia’s Sexual Persona
Modern Political Philosophy 1: Machiavelli’s Prince, Discourses on Livy, and Art of War
Modern Political Philosophy 2: Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Representation 2 vols, plus selected essays.
Modern Political Philosophy 3: Nietzsche’s Gay Science and Twilight of the Idols
Contemporary Data Analysis
Maths (TBD because I am a knuckle dragger)
Introduction to Real Science: no books will be read. Students will have ample supplies in a laboratory and a forest and lake nearby. It is up to them to experiment on and explore nature as they please.
Senior Seminar: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey
This list is NOT exhaustive. They are just the required courses. Since all of our instructors will be outstanding, they will be trusted to teach WHATEVER electives strike them as even barely justifiable on the basis of our Nietzschean motto.
There will be a musics hall as well as a large theater, both for plays and so that movies can be played. Students will be encouraged to put on their own plays, make their own movies, and make their own music.
Problems and Objections
Now, one might say: “But Cerberus, what about St. Johns College? Can’t an old great books liberal arts school fill the void in this horrible online educational world?” Good question. I think that I can bring the purpose of the Bronze Age University into relief by attaq’ing an institution I admire: St. John’s College. I describe, IN GENERAL, a St. John’s grad typology.
They think that philosophers of the past are wise and that they write very carefully, indeed, with logographic necessity. The philosophers write so carefully, that it may take a lifetime to understand even one of their books and almost anyone who claims to REALLY know what Plato or Nietzsche means is a fool or a charlatan. From this, a troubling claim can follow: there is no rank order of philosophers. Or, you will see many Johnnies, as they are called, 30 years after graduating, still asking again: what is justice? They say this is NOT a question that admits of any answer. Two more troubles follow: because there is no answer to what justice is, action becomes half-hearted. In addition, this skepticism is used to halt those who make a claim to know almost anything important.
Another argument that comes to mind, is that St. John’s attempts, to the extent possible, to institutionalize what CANNOT, by its very nature, be institutionalized: philosophy as a way of life. Philosophers are unbelievably rare types of human beings. St. John’s has to pretend that the fundamental questions are for everybody. They aren’t. Inequality is the fundamental fact of nature–a fact that St. John’s tries to ignore.
Institutions that perpetuate themselves inevitably rely upon dogmas; they cannot be philosophic. The Bronze Age University, in an effort to avoid becoming dogmatic will come designed with only enough funding to last 6 or 7 years. Attempting to institutionalize this kind of vitality may be against the spirit of BAP’s decentralized project of samizdat emissions. Nonetheless, should space for such a university appear, it will contribute to the bettering or purifying of our political regime. Exposure to the best and most distinct natural specimens or heroes that history has to offer will give them a taste for the heroic, for order of rank, for commanding.
Here is a different way into a similar argument: our historical moment calls for brawny and muscular Nietzschean dynamite. Men need to be ripened by looking on at heroes. They need to remember that they are not just their minds; that they are their bodies as well, and that the mind is just a part of the whole of a human being. They need to learn to trust their eyes and their judgment. The Bronze Age University has one thing as its goal: action.
We know that the world is sick. We know that the West has been drifting Leftward for hundreds of years. Those of us who are returning to our native inborne powers have no time to spare. Beauty waits for no man.