The Courage of GCAS

Many humans decide for a moment to go in the direction of the new possibility but they are inevitably interrupted by anxiety. We must also have an affect which goes against anxiety, and this affect is courage. Courage gives the human animal the means to go beyond anxiety. There is a dialectical relationship between courage and anxiety and it is at the very core of the construction of the new subjectivity. In some sense, anxiety is a necessity to indicate to the subject that there really is something new in the situation. Anxiety is something like a new subjective knowledge of the situation and courage is the affect that goes against anxiety in the direction which exists by the anxiety itself. Anxiety claims “oh, there is something new! And it is terrible!” Courage claims, “I will go in this direction, I will go beyond anxiety!” So, there is a dialectical relationship between anxiety and courage. Only when anxiety exists can the therapy for anxiety provide us with courage (Alain Badiou, The Subject of Change).

I have researched the history of the Global Center for Advanced Studies, by returning to a time when it was really still just the seed of an Idea. Can you believe that Creston shared the idea with us so few months ago? Yet, within a week it will inaugurate its very first seminar on the crisis of higher education!

I discovered that I made a number of mistakes in my understanding of the school. For example, I maintained that the university once advertised itself as a “tuition free” institution. The fact is that it never advertised itself as a “tuition free” university. The earliest indication of my error came from the first week of Creston’s new facebook page when he announced that the school would aim toward free tuition. I clearly confused aim with reality. The reality is that the school offers an extremely competitive tuition model (one third the cost of an average American education). Imagine: you can get an education from all of those thinkers that you admire so much, all in one place, and for much cheaper than a traditional university. The fact that the aim of the school is toward “free tuition” seems consistent with the principles of those who run the school, those that teach at the school, and, more than likely, many of those who will attend the school. This is to state that while I very much trust and admire the efforts of Creston Davis and Jason Adams, I also believe that those who do not know them like I do will be forced to admit that the pressure of the thinking that goes on in the school will be enough to promise the steady movement toward the aim of free tuition.

This brings me to the question: why did I have so many mis-perceptions about the school? Why have I been growing more suspicious of the school?

The fact is that new things provoke anxiety and uncertainty. When we are provoked by anxiety we sometimes turn into cowards and return to the traditional subject position. In my case, I was growing suspicious of the model, I think, because I did not understand it. The point is that new subject positions are always formed out of great uncertainty. We must begin there. It seems to me that the courage of the administrators of GCAS was that of advertising a school which they did not yet themselves fully understand. This is absolute courage. We should all be so courageous.


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