top of page

"So you have no formal education?"

Friday 12/27/19

Today a woman asked me if I had studied art and literature. What is meant by that query is did I sit in a classroom and was I told things I would not know on my own, was told how to think.

A person who asks that question puts stock in degrees of paper which say what you know--by way of a huge generalization--because that is a person who knows nothing about anything.

I learned nothing in college. Anything I know, I taught me. I learned. Everything one sees me write about, all of the expertise, with books, film, music, literature, ballet, art, nature, history, architecture, sports, and the human condition, the verities of this world, I know because of me, and no one else.

There was no professor who taught me a single thing about anything. Did not happen, not even once. I didn't know any who knew anything about anything--not like I was going to know things, which is to say, in totality. And if I listened to those professors and put value and my trust in their system, I would not know jack shit about anything.

I told this person that I did not study these matters in the manner which she likely meant, and then detailed aspects of what it is I do. She follows up with, "So you write on art and literature, but you have no formal education?"

Isn't that something?

I asked her if she believed it accurate to state that William Shakespeare, Dante, Orson Welles, John Keats, Pablo Picasso, Charles Dickens, had no formal education? Is that a good thing to say? Is that an accurate remark? "Formal." What does that even mean? That you sat in a classroom, wrote down what someone else said--and it all could have been wrong--regurgitated it back later, got a piece of paper, and thus you attained the impressive mantle of possessing a formal education?


So, would Duke Ellington then not be formally educated in jazz? He was, what, informally educated? Less thoroughly educated? More ramshackle-y educated? Less properly educated?

Is that accurate?


I told her we would not be a good fit, as, of course, we would not be.

You almost have to laugh over how simplistic people are in their tiny modes of thinking. Then again, I am uneducated.

bottom of page