Academic Writing is a Crime Against Humanity

"The readings are too boring," My classmate complained while all of us, the comparative politics class, wait in the dimly-lit grey-colored hallways of John Jay for whoever uses the bright light classroom to disperse.

"I didn't even do the readings," Another admitted with a shrug.

"Me either," I said.

I know you're going to say shame on us. But tell me.

Are you willing to read this every day?

"Comparative frameworks require normative categories on at least two levels: First, the entities to be compared (the units of analysis) must be demonstrably distinct, yet similar. This requires a principle by which to ascertain distinction, but each entity, ideally, should be a "case" of some larger principle. If this larger principle is not forthcoming, we have the colloquial, if inaccurate, formulation of comparing apples and oranges. With distinct, yet similar, entities in hand, a comparative framework then proceeds to evaluate the entities in terms of further normative categories (the objects of analysis or the units of observation)."

The paragraph comes from an article titled "Historicizing State Sovereignty: Inequality and the Form of Equivalence" by Radhika V. Mongia. I have no clear what's it's about. Even when the professor explained the article to us in class, I still have no clear over what's it's about. And by reading this paragraph, dear reader, you also have no clue to what she's talking about either.

Academic writing, indeed, has been a horrible menace to my college career as a political science major. Every time I open up the reading and see thirty-something pages, I just groan because I have to read the gobbly-gook of words such as "modality," "epistemological," and etc that blood from my eyes drips all over my keyboard. I couldn't stand it. But I have to.

I, after all, want to survive college.

But I also have an English minor. And the readings for this minor couldn't be more different from my major.

Let me explain.

When I read David Foster Wallace in my grammar class, my eyes widened at the very end of his famous commencement speech: "this is water, this is water." He said the very said line after describing to the audience what an education means: to exercise control and choice over what to think and to shed from the "default" setting. Upon finishing the essay, I felt some kind of emotional reaction in me. I was......I was.......touched? Getting touched after finishing a reading? Now, that's absurd. But. after reading a speech that is so carefully constructed, I couldn't help but impressed.

And then when I went back to the other reading that my Politics in the Middle East professor assigned to me, blood not only dripped from my eyes but also horns grew on my head because I saw a however at the beginning of the sentence.

"However, Supply Police oversight extends to such matters as the conformity of subsidized bread to certain standards. "

This sentence comes from Ismail Salwa's "The Egyptian Revolution Against the Police." I can understand the gist of her article: Egyptians railed against the police. But this little mistake bothered me because my grammar professor told us not to do that and if he did, he will put a big fat SYN on it.

God, even thinking about the big fat SYN makes me shudder.

And no doubt that a whole semester of training myself to read those ghastly academic articles ruined my sentence. I had to skip my international law class to master the three levels of syntax--essay, paragraph, sentences--and got an A in return. But, upon preparing myself for the final essay, I realized that I had a lot of unlearning to do.

And that requires not to shove my face on academic articles, no matter the bigger my horns get.


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