To continue in this vein for a moment — that's a phrase I've rarely written and, all of a sudden, I am quite drawn to it and repulsed by it — I love writing and thinking as visceral but the hypochondriac in me wants out of the vein — as I was saying, to continue this line of thought — a line that I hope suggests other lines, a line that meanders and twists and turns, a line that refuses to go straight except when straight is called for — so, yes, this line of inquiry: the academy remains premised on the silo which, in an age of the network, seems rather anachronistic.
Thinking today — and maybe thinking always — is about forging connections, not piling up facts in a closed domain. This is not to say there is not a pleasure in facts, a knowledge to be enjoyed in facts. Foucault would spend hours upon hours, weeks upon weeks, in the archives, discovering a peculiar erotics of the information splay. (Me, I've never been a fact guy. Even as an undergraduate history major, I found facts achingly boring and hence wrote my thesis on Foucault and models of historiography — anything to avoid facts! Which, alas, is not a critique of facts but a critique of me — not in the sense of criticism but in the true sense of critique. I like to move fast in my thinking and facts slow me up; I'd rather make shit up. But many of my favorite thinkers enjoy a very different speed. It all depends on your metabolism.)
How does one go about teaching thinking? How does one go about teaching the skill of making connections? Well, it's through example. See how Foucault makes a connection between jails, prisons, and schools; look how Deleuze makes connections between calculus, architecture, and Paul Klee; look how McLuhan makes a connection between the assembly line and the alphabet. These are not examples we can copy; they are not examples from which we can extrapolate a concept. No, they are examples that show how thinking can happen, the possible directions it can take, the types of leaps and bounds it can make.
Which is to say, it takes practice — practice in linking, assembling, deconstructing, proliferating, meandering meaningfully and not.
Writing, at its best, takes the reader on an unexpected tour of such lines of thinking, such veins of thought. The very movement of the words takes us along a ride through uncharted territory — and, in the process, lays claim to new domains — domains that may very well be sui generis.
One might say — am I saying it? Well, yes and no — that thought is the art of metaphor as metaphor, etymologically, means to transfer, to carry over (doh! a fact! a fact I love, relish, and deploy often). Which might explain the long historical ties between philosophy and poetry and why Lucretius calls himself a poet.
In any case, I wish the kids today learned more of this and less of that — or both this and that.