Reading the essay"Hidden Intellectualism" by Gerald Graff points to an author who has a very wide scope of thoughts. He paints such animated, lively and brilliant images of both the "book smarts" and the "street smarts." He articulates these two scenarios making them pulse with life even as he comfortably lives his life in either of the scenes claiming "street smart" is not any less intellectual than "book smart."
He begins by raising the curtain on his old neighborhood in Chicago which he refers to as a melting pot after World War II. Here he has to survive as a "street smart" where he says he had a choice of being physically tough and being verbal. He rubs it in stating that being "tough" earned one complete legitimacy. Yet as he looks at it in retrospect, he has two conflicting wishes since he did not want to jeopardize his respectable future as a "clean cut" boy.
He introduces a paradox when he explains that the analysis of sports teams, movies and the toughness he and his friends engaged in, already betrayed an allegiance to intellectualism. The fact that one had to make an "...argument, weigh the evidence, move between particular and general, summarizing the news of others, and enter a conversation about ideas." He mentions Ted Williams's .400 batting average which is something one can talk about with a stranger. At this point he evokes a response from me as I concur with this thought. One only needs to mention anything on basketball, soccer or/and football to create an atmosphere of de ja vu.
Graff continues to analyze that the real intellectual world is "organized very much like the world of team sports with rival texts, rival interpretation and evaluation of texts,..." This creates a parallelism where both the world of sports and intellectualism breed envy, ill-will and/or hatred. This is portrayed in a 1993 movie, "The Fugitive" by Harrison Ford. He is a scientist whose wife is killed to frame him, this worked and he is left to rot in jail. Meanwhile his rival who ordered the killing, steals his experiments and furthers his career until Ford escapes from incarceration and the truth is revealed. Grade-grubbing?!
In sports, we are reminded of the 1994 Soccer World Cup in the United States where Andres Escobar of Columbia scored an own goal against the United States. He was murdered shortly after the team returned home to Columbia. It is said the man responsible was Pablo Escobar (not a relative) who was referred to as the "Worlds Greatest Outlaw"- a street smart guy who made his fortune by dealing drugs.
I readily agree with Graff when he says "there is no necessary relation between the degree of interest a student shows in a text or subject and the quality of thought or expression." I had never thought of Pop Culture as a subject in college. I believed there were more intellectual subjects to study BUT it turns out to be like my hockey. Initially I despised the hockey stick. The school I had joined had no swimming pool, so the only option was hockey. After the first two trainings, I was sold out and I look forward to sturdy Pop Culture.
I read this text about four times. The first reading I perused through, the second reading was done during my night shift on Thursday- night shifts are more often my times to do assignments because of the quietness as long as it lasts. Third reading was on Friday at work with pens and highlighters at hand. On Saturday I did my main reading as I wrote notes, checked the dictionary and enjoyed some discussion with my husband. Lastly, I have typed it and will post it in a little while.
Coggin Steward, The Andre Escobar Murder. www.world soccer.about .com/...