I have never once wholly enjoyed a seminar group I have been a part of. I have very few ‘course-friends’. But would I want to be friends with them? Probably not.
Studying Philosophy & Politics, you’d think that people would be open-minded enough to listen to other people’s opinions, but an overarching air of sanctimoniousness fills my nostrils at least three times a week, and I’m sick of it. We’re all 20-year-old overgrown children: anything that any of us have to say about Syria or vegetarianism or whatever is being discussed is unlikely to be more illuminating than anything that has been put in actual books that we can read in the actual library. So, why don’t we just stick to that rather than feeling that it is necessary to share the inner workings of the rusty cogs inside our melon-ous heads?
My whole experience of seminar culture represents my interpretation of the phrase ‘Broken Britain’, now a set phrase in my own vocabulary to assert damnation upon all social decay that irks me. A key facet of this is the aforementioned repulsive self-righteousness that I am forced to sit through, pretending to write notes on what people are saying but really flicking through Facebook, waiting for the inevitability of death or the end of the seminar, whichever comes first.
Maybe my resentment towards seminars stems from my inability to do the assigned reading each week, instead relying on snippets of interviews that I have heard on television, or a few absorbed words of my lecturers’ monologues in between napping. This leaves me in the doubly frustrating situation where I don’t really know what other people are talking about, but I nevertheless intrinsically know that I don’t like what they are saying.
The way that I know that I am right about this, is if you consider the alternate argument. “Seminars provide an interesting platform for students to express their response and engage with other students in discussing what they are studying,” is something that I imagine one of these anaemic seminar keenos, who outside of seminar rooms are only spotted browsing books in the library or buying tins in Nisa, would say.
By this point, if you haven’t come to the conclusion that I am a bit of an arse then this sentence will help catch you up to speed. For those of you that did within the first two sentences, I recommend that you read Susan Wolf’s ‘Moral Saints’ which will educate you about why only worrying about not being an arse is overrated. See, sometimes I do my seminar reading.
Writing an opinion piece about this is all rather redundant and ironic really, as what I am really campaigning for is complete and utter apathy when it comes to most things. If this is unachievable, then I’ll settle for uninformed conversation where sincerity and questions such as, “Sorry, I didn’t quite get what you meant by that, could you repeat yourself?”, are equated on an intellectual level with smearing your own, fresh faeces all over the whiteboard where the seminar tutor has endeavoured to write out the group’s ideas while at the same time re-wording every single thing that has been said.
Just as a final note to anyone unfortunate enough to read this and then find themselves in a seminar with me, don’t take it too personally: it’s not me, it’s you.
Bottom Line: If you enjoy seminars you are probably going to die alone.