Arts Decimation in UK Education

Just finished reading this piece in the Guardian about Sheffield Hallam University closing their English literature degree.

This is just the latest in a line of such actions by Universities in the UK, as they conform with the dead-eyed prescriptions of this government that learning to think, to read and study and gain deeper understanding, amount to undesirable and problematic, low value outcomes.

Of course what’s really going on here is that for this most Eton-fronted and networked collection of political gargoyles that run UK Plc – there is a treble score to be made from these moves. The first is that the populace are pegged down yet further – as part of an agenda that involved closing down access to consciousness-expanding education through state support that really began with Mrs. Thatcher.

This also then fulfills the second score for the government, the arts and literature, theatre and related areas become yet more exclusively the preserve of the wealthy to enter, run and fulfill. The chances of experimental and ‘dangerous’ work that comes from the outspark of the curtailed is also thus depressed further.

The final benefit is that less inspired, less creatively-visited individuals are far more likely to be apt and useful ‘processors’ in the capitalist grind to which the state’s leaders are now the ultimate servants.

In a way, this is actually also an act of arch-Reality-enforcement. There has been a strand for many centuries, composed in this instance of literature and theatre (writing and telling stories) that has contained the spark of breaking from the myth of the unbroken and has allowed for an expansive ontological platform that ushers at its most profound, towards the unknown forces of the cosmos and gives them the bodies of encounter and knowledge. To remove or dam such a stream inevitably further emiserates the constituent properties of life in humans, denies further access and understanding to the setting and intensive-modalities of the structure and function of the state-social. Damned to a perpetually renewing interiority that gorges on the metrics of bread and circuses.

There are other such strands of course, that carry the charge of the possibilities of transforming oneself and one’s understanding of directions in abstraction and life. The nature of these things is that they surround and animate much of what we love, but their diagrammatic capacity for us will be massively curtailed with the loss of centres of learning where the wisdom of the greatest wordsmiths and poets and playwrights will certainly impact. It will be to the detriment of all humans and the world if this brazen elevation of hostility to thought is allowed to simply become the norm in their ongoing metastasising of capitalist reality.


As if to thematically juxtapose, two excerpts, here T.S. Eliot :

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror …

Four Quartets: Burnt Norton

From further afield, a bedfellow surely of English Literature, the Dao


Knowing the masculine
and nurturing the feminine
you become the river of all beneath heaven.
River of all beneath heaven
you abide by perennial Integrity
and so return to infancy.
Knowing the white
and nurturing the black
you become the pattern of all beneath heaven.
Pattern of all beneath heaven
you abide by perennial Integrity
and so return to the boundless.
Knowing splendor
and nurturing ruin
you become the valley of all beneath heaven.
Valley of all beneath heaven
you rest content in perennial Integrity
and so return to the simplicity of uncarved wood.
When uncarved wood is split apart
it becomes mere implements.
But when a sage is employed
he becomes a true minister,
for the great governing blade carves nothing.

Translation David Hinton

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