George Scialabba retired from his job this October. He had worked at Harvard University for thirty-five years. But not as a professor. Scialabba was a clerical worker and building manager. A piece in the Chronicle Review about Scialabba’s career as a writer and book critic described his day job as “low level.”
Scialabba has, more even than most writers, kept to the sidelines of public life. He worked at the very margins of academia. He has written critical essays and book reviews from a position that is self-consciously “unaffiliated.”
Because Scialabba wanted to be free, of course. He wanted to think and write freely. This, Scialabba thought, has gotten harder and harder to do.
That’s because (as he put it in an essay entitled “What Are Intellectuals Good for?”) we are facing, in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, a general truth:
Intellectuals have indeed been incorporated en masse into the power elite, making the “transparent social relations” Merleau-Ponty looked forward to that much more difficult and distant. [Read more...]