Objection and Reply #1

Objection: 

To be honest, I find it rather difficult to tell people that you’re the “the best classical scholar”.

There are hundreds of prominent scholars and authorities on classical literature across the world. Many have attended schools like Harvard or Columbia. Some teach there. Others have written bestsellers themselves. People like Bernard Knox (may he rest in peace) and Mary Beard are well known classicists.

On the other hand, I asked a friend of mine who studies English at UCLA if she knows about you or your work. She said she’s never even heard your name before. You’re unheard of (and I mean that very seriously — you’re a nobody, let’s be honest). No one knows who you are and I doubt more than twenty people have bought the books you’ve written.

Why you choose to hold yourself in such high regard is completely beyond me.

REPLY: 

1) Look at my reading list (I have site statistics and you haven’t done this, nor has anyone else this evening) and tell me whether you know another 25 year old who can remotely approach it. You can’t. So don’t tell me I’m arrogant in how I present myself. I have read more at my age than Milton, Joyce, Samuel Johnson, or any other major “man of letters” through the ages. And I didn’t even start until I was 20.  That alone is something I am allowed to take pride in.

2) This has nothing to do with the crux of my post, which is that if I explain something to someone and they ask me a question showing that they’ve not taken what I’ve said seriously, they’re being disrespectful.  So unless you do these kinds of things, there’s no reason for you to take offense.

3) Fame and diligence/good scholarship are vastly different things, often at odds with one another. So yes, I’m a nobody.  Whether a student at UCLA has heard of me is not relevant to how good of a scholar I am. For all I know your student may never have heard of Plotinus (author of The Six Enneads) or Xenophon either, so she is not a good arbiter. Most college students would not know half of the classics if they hit them on the head, yet they would claim to know who the best classical scholars are by the fame those people have (rightly) earned.  In fact it raises serious questions about which is to them more valuable, the scholar or the work.

I noted in January of 2011 that state-sponsored universities foster crime, published it in a book, and not a single university professor took note (or for that matter anyone else). I did so at the age of 22 using classical literature and sources and my own experiences in these universities, which do not do justice to the system. These top classicists you mention may be famous, but they did not do so. I did not get famous off my book. By November of 2011 the whole country was up in arms about Sandusky at–you bet ya!–Penn State. Whether I got famous for that book has nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of my claims in it, and fame for my scholarship or the lack thereof has nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of the claim that I’m the best at it. I wrote a remarkably original and incisive book on the decline of the epic poem at 23, but you’ve never heard of it and neither has your friend–nor have the top professors, though I did approach many of them about it and got no response–so does that mean it doesn’t exist? Does any of this indicate that society is better off for ignoring me? Or have I given you enough for you to realize that society is much worse off for ignoring my likes?

4) English is not classics. Classics include nonfiction works.

5) I’ve been given no opportunity and no ears by anyone. This does not mean I’m not the best at what I do, only that those who are in charge–and who are often very mediocre–are not allowing top talent to rise, and that people like you won’t look at evidence that’s presented to them with a rational eye. This tendency towards mediocrity is fairly common, especially in universities where the institutional structures are built to allow “experience” to trump results.

6) The fact that you associate universities with top scholarship shows how foolish this comment is, and how deluded you have been by the modern educational system. In no age in history have universities shown any serious regard for good scholarship. Most great classical authors despised universities–Gibbon, Mill, Pascal, Adam Smith, to name but a few. They have done everything they can to avoid universities, as I am presently doing in their true spirit. They felt, as I feel, that universities do damage to society as a whole, that they focus on repeating meaningless arguments both moral and intellectual which are at odds with common sense, and that those who attend them find themselves no better off for the work they are exposed to in them than those who do not attend them. My personal experience leads me to support the correctness of this view.

7) There’s no reason for the attitude on your end. I don’t care what you don’t know about me. Nobody asked you, and hopefully nobody else will allow what they don’t know to blind them to what’s really out there.  Get out of here and leave the people who have respect for what I do alone.

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