I’ve always been an avid learner both inside and outside of school. As I started progressing through the educational system however I found myself distressed by the incessant streamlining of what was available for me to learn (through my formal educational channels anyway as they tended to inform what I would explore on my own) as well the cultural perspectives that were offered to me. It’s no surprise that I’ve turned towards autodidactic learning to satisfy my intellectual curiosity as this gives me infinitely more control over my instructional material. The internet age lets my classroom extend as far as my wireless and sporadic insomnia will take me. I’ve decided to share my discoveries for any and all who are interested.

First on the Autodidact Files: Dr Jason J campbell.

I accidentally came on his Youtube channel about a year ago when I was looking for some additional analysis to help me unpack Gayatri Spivak’s notable essay “Can the subaltern speak?”, a seminal work in post colonial studies. Fun times with serendipity 😀 – I not only found exactly what I was looking for but stumbled upon what is now one of my favourite learning resources for philosophy and theory/philosophy of mind.

A little background on the good doctor: he’s trained as a philosopher and is currently an assistant professor of conflict analysis and resolution at Nova Southern University, Florida as well as the founder and Executive Director for the Institute for Genocide Awareness and Applied Research. With so much on his plate he still takes time to share knowledge through video lectures on his youtube channel (You can find it here). His vlogs are very accessible (very little of that staunch pretence characteristic of academia at that level) and he is very open to communication with subscribers exploring a wide range of topics from neoliberalism to theories of ethnicity and nationalism.

You can also find a decent selection of complementary notes for his lecture series here on his academia.edu page (incidentally another great resource for scholarly papers). He hasn’t posted a new video in 5 months but you’ll have more than enough to go through however before it becomes an issue (hopefully a new series will be up soon). I’m currently following his series on José Ortega y Gasset’s “The Revolt of the Masses” which, to my surprise, is striking a lot of chords with regards to my reading of Steve Biko’s “I Write What I like” (Yay to interdisciplinary study). I really hope you find this man as helpful as I have and enjoy!

Continuously learning all I can is my way of doing penance for the mistakes I’ve made. I want to make sure I never repeat them again and to do that I must ensure that all my choices and actions are well thought out and allow me to be in equilibrium with whatever environment that I’m in. This requires a lot of time and effort.

One could say it’s almost sado-masochistic. Intellectual self-flagellation. I go wherever my learning takes me, no matter what it makes me question. I am not afraid to be wrong – In fact I hope there never comes a time where there is nothing that can challenge my beliefs; that would mean there would be nothing left to learn, and what would be the point of living after that?

So I keep learning, keep sharpening myself, not for any gain necessarily but so that all the space I occupy be it physically, in terms of power, et cetera et cetera is not wasted.

I’ve always been fascinated by scars. Not the scar itself necessarily but the process of scarification, the relationship between the scar and the wound. The wound is covered but not made impervious – the softness, the hurt, still lies underneath.

This fascination is probably why I don’t feel self-conscious about mine. Not that I have any disfiguring ones so I suppose it’s infinitely easier for me to be comfortable with them. There are some wounds I have that I can’t forget. Even when they become near imperceptible. I know exactly where they are and often run my fingers over them to awaken their memories. Most of them are from my childhood so this always gives me access to parts of my brain that would normally remain dormant.

My childhood was rich and full of vivid somato-sensory experiences. I was constantly feeding on information (avid reader and TV watcher), interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and engaging in a wide range of activities all in the highly dynamic and vibrant environment of West Africa. Accessing those roots helps me centre myself – learning takes you in so many different directions, it’s nice to have something to anchor yourself to, a point of reference you can jump off from. My childhood is my cliff, not my childhood self but what that self was surrounded by, felt, and came to understand of the world – the knowledge not the individual, if one could separate the two.

I think it’s useful to regularly inject some of the carefree insatiably curious quasi-innocent nature of that perspective into my current thought process. I can’t exactly stop looking but I don’t want to be weighed down by the truths I want to uncover either.

Autodidact blues

This is the my main beef with the institutionalization of accreditation and intellect: if you don’t have the certificate, one can dismiss what you say. And you could be telling any well founded truth, yet not possessing that almighty piece of paper somehow makes your information less valid? I’m not saying that all institutionally unaccredited individuals are the next Malcolm X but let’s not pretend that auto-didactic learning isn’t a viable route to knowledge acquisition.