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401. The joyous (V)

If I were given charge over the university system I would implement one reform: the first year—for all students, whatever subject they studied—would involve eight hours spent in meditation before a white wall. This would be all the students would do for five days every week for an entire year. There would be no music, instruction, or chants during this period; and there would be no prescribed way to observe the wall—no obligation to sit, assume the lotus position, or kneel.

Assessment would be pass/fail, with a failure being a student who attended fewer than 95% of the sessions. The whole activity could be conducted in a gym-like building lit by large skylights and fitted with white walls. After this year, courses would proceed as usual.

It will never be allowed: universities exist to close minds, not open minds—and certainly not to cause a person to lose their mind. What I propose is to deprogram the students: from their family, from their personal narratives, from their religions, from their politics, from their scientific and intellectual thoughts; deprogram, not reprogram—as happens at university now. I want them to sit and watch all those thoughts and feelings—all those masks, masks for parents and teachers and friends—and then they can start to learn their subjects, in a mindless way. After the first year they will know how to concentrate on anything, from a language to a computer program; for the contemporary student the primary liberation will not be from a religion or a belief, it will be from Facebook or Instagram.

It will never be allowed: the old religions—for what those are worth, very little now—will all object; they will say it is Eastern mysticism or a cult; and they will say that because they know those youngsters indoctrinated into Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and so on will change in that year; perhaps they will actually see Jesus speak to them—and the priests cannot allow that. The Buddhists will object too; they will say the students do not sit correctly, so it is not enlightenment. Priests are all the same. The parents will object because it is not useful and “not what I’m paying for and worked all my life for”, and because it will destroy the narratives they use to torture their children. The staff will object because there is no content or exams or young apprentices to cultivate; no young women to seduce or activists to moan about.

The progressives and the Marxists will object because it has no political content and everyone can do it, being so easy it must be terribly elitist. The conservatives will object because it is “not useful” and “not what a university is for” and “weird”. The hoes will object because it reduces their chances to strut around campus, since everyone will look at the white wall and not them—even though they will wear trampy yoga pants to each session to gain attention (hence women are the enemies of spirituality). The government will object because there will be too few bureaucratic details to control; and business will be annoyed because a white wall is not a marketable commodity. The sportsmen will protest it is unsporty—and the nerds will say there is no intellect to it. The people who come to university for the drugs and alcohol and parties will say it is no fun.

Yet the white wall is so much better than working like a Chinaman over your books, or going to a party and getting drunk, or taking drugs, or causal sex, or a part-time job, or athletic success, or being a student activist—all those contemporary university activities. Bring in the white wall—bring forward those who can survive it—and you will see a very different student in the second year, not more disciplined and not more frivolous; just both and neither. It will never be done; everyone would be united and say: shut it down.


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