No really. I can’t understand him. I can’t stand him. I can’t Kant.
The thing is, I think that was his goal.
I’ve been reading passages from Kant’s philosophical works on aesthetics for one of my classes. When I say “I’ve been reading,” I really mean that I’ve been staring at the pages and hoping that things will start to make sense. They don’t. They didn’t make sense when they were written, and they don’t make any sense now.
Essentially, he takes twenty words to say what could be said in three. His average sentence is about the length of a normal paragraph. His paragraphs are atrociously long. He seems to contradict himself three times per sentence. He uses obscenely long words just to show off. The only people who can understand what he’s trying to say are the kids who sat around and memorized the dictionary in their spare time between chess meets.
The average human cannot.
Here is the great irony of higher education: when you arrive, you will receive a certain set of rules regarding how to write. These rules are to be concise, to use clear word choices, to make sure your pronouns and antecedents aren’t arguing, and to say what needs to be said in the most straightforward and logical manner humanly possible. Do this, and you will succeed in college and in life, they say, waving red pens in the air like deranged orchestra conductors.
Then, after a year or two, you realize that the writers who made their marks on history, philosophy, literature, the world, broke all of these rules. For their whole careers. Kant, for example, didn’t bother to be clear, concise, or overtly logical. But yet, I’m still required to read his works for class. He’s still kind of a big deal. I can’t figure out how he got to be a big deal in the first place. How on earth did anyone know what he was saying?
How come he can break the rules, but I can’t? How come people will probably still be reading his work hundreds of years from now, but will have forgotten about my little blog, even though I do my best to make sure my blog is both readable and funny? How come he gets all this recognition for putting in very confusing terms what he was probably overthinking anyway? Why did any publisher in his right mind look at page one of Kant’s work and think it might have cultural significance? Did he just read the first sentence and think, Huh, I can’t understand it – he must be trying to say something important; let’s publish it!
Why? Why oh why oh why?
All I know is that I’ve had it. Thank goodness we can move on to other subjects in class once we’re done with Kant. Because I can’t take him anymore. I just Kant.