Dark Academia

Dark Academia

TODO (themes I’m still writing out)

  1. With democratization of the knowledge of humanities, degrees become virtue signaling. Comparing with mathematics provides an alternative where the collegiate atmosphere can benefit from everyone starting off at a higher liver [computational studies? literature beyond writing? or is this grafting something foreign?]
  2. Edit for clarity
  3. Conclude with aesthetics for its own sake and perhaps literature has a debasing influence, but Donna Tartt said that. Returning to philology, read the book.

The Dark Academia aesthetic rose to prominence in Winter 2022. This coincided with my first reading of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, a seminal work in the associated literary genre. That book has inspired many conceptual trailers (my favorite, good music, slow cinematogrraphy). My searching led YouTube to recommend many good playlists (classical and moody, classical and reflective, classical and melancholy, atmospheric).

The Take related how dark academia can be more than a resurgence of interest in buying vintage clothes – remember Macklemore’s Thrift Shop?– but related to a desire to reclaim an academic space college students had to vacate because of COVID-19. I would add that these students have also reacted to irrational exuberance given to technical education (code camps anyone?) and derision in academia given in the liberal arts to anything apprroaching philology rather then polemicization. Loving Ancient Greek on its own terms embraces something of intellectual beauty and denies that it must be worth something on an accountant’ spreadsheet. I think today’s college youth see the hypocrisy of college administrations who charge more for less and themselves either betrayed their ideals to become functionaries or are “management professionals” who moved classes onto Zoom. Why not, then, spice up Zoom with some good lighting, fashion, and music?

Two threads to examine further.

Think of the word nostalgia.

Nostalgia (pain for home) has its canonical incarnation in Homer’s Odyssey. Oddysseus longs to return to something close to the Ithaca he left 10 years ago cajoled into fighting the Trojan war with Agamemnon. He remembers the Ithaca he left because he was there. Some describe the dark academia aesthetic as nostalgic. I think aspirational is a more accurate modifier. Danger of Romanticization

Where is mathematics?

Darkness in the sense of partially illuminated is central to this aesthetic. Science laboratories are out because they take place in fully lit rooms, and, to boot, with no candles strewn about nor flowing flammable clothing. I’ve read Rudin’s Principles of Mathematical Analysis in partially lit rooms, just as I have read Madame Bovary.

For mathematics and humanities, the Internet has democratized knowledge.