Too often intellectuals and academics are cynical and pessimistic. This is understandable as all you need to do is just think more deeply about our world and how it works. Often it's not a pretty picture. Simple research into how things work on economic and political levels give ample license for frustration and even anger. What's worse is once you figure out how things work (often against most people in favor of the few) what becomes even more frustrating is just how difficult it is to adjust and reform the very things (logics, power) that turn our world into a daunting outlook.
Overtime, over years of research, publishing, lecturing, teaching things don't seem to improve; indeed they only seem to deteriorate further into darkness. This can lead anyone, even the most hopeful personalities into despair.
How can we as intellectuals and professors address this cynicism and despair? The first thing to observe is how a hopeful outlook (as oppose to a cynical one) is nurtured. Hope is fragile and nearly impossible to maintain through individual efforts. Hope thus requires a community.
Contemporary forms of how the academy is articulated are designed to break hope down into the cascades of despair because academics are isolated from each other by how hiring processes work. The last thing the ruling powers want is for academics of similar interests to work together on a daily level because a power-base is created through this matrix. So we resort to meeting up with each other once, perhaps twice a year for a 2 or 3 day conference at which time we make connections but within hours have to return back to our individual struggles. Once again we work alone.
The academic structure is design to isolate and this gives rise to ego production. One must publish! "Publish or perish!" This is the slogan that underwrites the academic held in fear. And once you've published enough books to be "safe" it's already too late.
If we could stand back at a distance and understand the social logic into which the academic and intellectual is placed we would be better able to strategize a response. But this strategy requires the academic to give up on the master-signifier around which all legitimacy seems to hang namely acceptance and promotion. It seems the academic is placed into a binary "either/or" either you play the game (publish, apply to countless jobs, neutralize your research into acceptable terms etc.) or you're dismissed. Alternatively, there is another way. You buck the system itself and risk isolation. But isn't the intellectual already isolated? So it's either isolation or isolation. Either "acceptance" in which case you have to compromise your research and thus isolation and despair emerge or else you buck the system and risk isolation.
An alternative strategy thus requires courage. It is the courage to call out the very system itself that neutralizes research findings, isolates us into ego-chambers, tames us into baptizing the unjust structures of power. And all of this leads where? To despair and unrescuable pessimism.
What The Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS) is, if it's nothing else, is a strategic way to breakout of this isolation and despair that plagues the academic and intellectual.
It takes courage to be sure. But no book, no matter how brilliant and penetrating, provides an existential way out of despair. In other words, the very means and tools by which the academic reproduces their craft (i.e. publishing and teaching) are themselves another form of reproducing their own despair unless academics come together and seize the means of knowledge production and that requires a community committed to trust, hope, and support. It is a community that believes that you don't have to compromise to be, but can be and even flourish without being checked and neutralized into a system of despair.
GCAS is a community of courage and optimism that holds the belief that knowledge is too powerful to be contained. We believe ideas matter and that ideas too are a material way to align ones life to live with confidence.
GCAS a different way to flourish.