Dark Academia

Dark Academia

Themes I’m still developing

  1. With democratization of the knowledge ~of humanities~~ degrees become virtue signaling a marker of quality. Comparing with mathematics provides an alternative where the collegiate atmosphere can benefit from everyone starting off at a higher level [computational studies? literature beyond writing? or is this grafting something foreign?]
  1. 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.
  2. How does dark academia relate to Oscar Wilde’s commentary in The Critic as Artist? The Critic as Artist and in the introduction to The Portrait of Dorian Gray?
  3. There is a fundmantal tension between art for art’s sake or science for science’s sake and interesting funders in it. YouTube and Podcasts have allowed people to monetize their expertise (e.g. Jackson Crawford, Language Jones, Saturna Lanx). The question then becomes where there subscribers get their money from. Unless there is universal agreement, some form of capital seems necessary to get someone skilled in something you need but not invested in your ends to do that think for you.

The Dark Academia aesthetic rose to prominence in Winter 2022, just when I first read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, a canonical work in that genre. That book inspired many conceptual trailers (my favorite, good music, slow cinematography). 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. It concretizes a desire to reclaim an academic space college students had to vacate because of COVID-19. Perhaps it is also a reaction to prioritizing technical education over the more philological types of liberal arts1. 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?

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 more accurate . 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.

  1. I previously thought of code camps as emblematic of the glorification of acquiring a modicum of technical skill. But there are also Latin conventicula. Perhaps my view was too narrow. And code camps may be less a glorification of technical learning than a grab by economic powers to tap into a more amateur (and thus cheaper) part of the labor force.