doubt whether they are all that good,nand rightly so. The competition to gainnentry into the so-called elite universitiesnis brutal; for every one who isnchosen, ten are rejected. The selectionnprocess confers upon the chosen notnonly pride but also self-doubt. Snobberynand conceit then must cover upnthe uncertainty. The faculties at elitenschools also pay a psychological price.nThey know that it is not the positionnthat honors the person, but the personnwho honors the position; they knownthat no university today is “best” in allndepartments; and they know that mostnprestigious universities rely for theirnfame upon their professional schools,nrather than on their college and graduatenfaculties. There is a simple rule ofnthumb: good people are where theynare, good work comes from where itncomes from, and important minds impartnprestige to the colleges or universitiesnwhere they do their work.nDoes anybody remember Konigsberg,nbut that Kant worked there? Andnwho cares whether Einstein was anprofessor at Tubingen or Basel, ornDarwin at Cambridge or Leeds, ornFreud in Vienna, or. Marx in Frankfurt?nInflated endowments, great libraries,ntradition, and old buildings cannform a facade that conceals a shabbynintellectual slum. This is not to comparenIvy League universities to Potemkinnvillages, nor to say that all emperorsnare naked. I mean only to ask if it isnworth the price exacted of those studentsnand professors, who live lives ofnconceit, insecurity, and vacuous selfimportance.nI left a “hot college” for what somenmight call a backwater, because I wantednto devote the final chapters of mynteaching career to a life of learning andnscholarship within a community. AtnBrown University, smart and lazy andnspoiled rich kids told professors thatntheir parents are paying $25,000 anyear, so therefore. … At the Universitynof South Florida, students comenbecause they’re there and we’re here: itnis the only opportunity. I get to teachnin a cycle at five campuses, Tampa, St.nPetersburg, Fort Myers, Sarasota, andnLakeland, and many of my studentsnwill come from their jobs and go on tontheir homes. At Brown the conventionalnstudents do the conventionalnthing. Here, there is scarcely a convention;na forty-three-year-old woman, an8/CHRONlCLESncollege senior, talks to me about graduatenstudies, my classroom is open tonanyone who registers, and senior citizensncome free.nThis is not to suggest we have nonneed for,national universities with undergraduatenprograms. Highly specializednuniversities such as MIT and CalnTech will always find a special place fornthemselves; but their professionalismnand their acknowledged eminence innthe few things they claim to do justifynthat place. In the aggregate, however,neducation works best when learningnrelates to living, when learning yieldsnto preparation for work — not a particularnjob to be sure, but the capacity tonwork in general — and when what wendo in the university years leads fromnsomewhere to somewhere. When universitiesnare answerable to their communities,nand when communities sustainntheir universities in a reciprocalnrelationship, learning is endowed withncontext and meaning, and educationnserves a purpose.n-Jacob NeusnernTHE ART WORLD, never a placenfor the linear-minded and logicalnamong us, seems to be in an exceptionallynstrange way these days. Here anwoman “performance artist” makes ancareer of doing vile things with yamsnwhile squeaking about phallocentrism;nthere a young man, presumably in thensame spirit, castrates himself before ancamera. (To paraphrase comedian BobnGoldthwait, pity the Fotomat clerknwho loses that roll of film.) Somenblocks away, another young man immersesna crucifix in urine in order tonmake, as he says, a statement about thencommercialization of religion. All ofnthem, of course, have exercised suchnecstasies of the creative imaginationnthrough government funds. And all ofnthem want still more public dollars.nA person endowed with a sobernbrain may well be inclined to post anletter to Washington to request thatnfunds for such nonsense be diverted tonmore useful ends. A rank philistinenmay question why the governmentnshould be in the art racket in the firstnplace. A real boor may even suggestnthat artists undertake not to outragenpublic sensibilities with the help ofnpublic largesse, reasoning — as sonmany artists seem incapable of doingnnn— that the one who pays the piper callsnthe tune.nThese good citizens have strangenallies, it happens, in a wobbly coalitionnof artists and “cultural workers” whonhave pledged, as of January 1, 1990,nnot to lift pen or chisel or burin.nInstead, they’ve called an Art Strike.nOnly unknown artists are participating,nwhile the tills of the Mapplethorpenestate and the SoHo-Tribeca set happilynfill up. But as the strike wears on andncrowds of revolutionary post-neoexpressionistsnwrest state power awaynfrom Sotheby’s and MOMA, they maynlure their more impressionable seniorsninto the movement.nLet’s dismiss the cynical notion thatnthe strikers, by withholding their artnfrom the world, are merely drummingnup demand, thereby contributing tonthe “inflationary commodification” —nas one of them, schooled in Marx andnFrench critical theory, put it — thatnallows a nondescript be-dribbled canvasnto fetch six figures. Poor souls, theynmay mean it. The strikers may evennhave to seek their living in gas stationsnand convenience stores and factories.nThere are, after all, as Oscar Wildensaid, moments when art attains to thendignity of manual labor.nThe Art Strike has a sort-of-officialnorgan in Yawn: A Sporadic Critique ofnCulture, which I commend to those innwant of amusement or annoyance.nPerhaps to co-opt would-be scabs,nsome of the strikers have opened a salenoutlet in San Francisco, where pricesnrange from a nickel to a ceiling ofnthirty-five dollars. Don’t anyone tellnthe Japanese.nThe art strikers pledge to continuentheir strike against the elitist commoditynmarket until the first of January,n1993. In the manner of our Departmentnof Agriculture, I wonder whethernwe could subsidize them to even greaternends — offering, say, a stipend ofntwenty thousand dollars for every yearnin which they produce nothing whatever.nIt’s too late for Mapplethorpe,nbut can we enroll the Serranos andnFinleys right now? Dare we preventnstill more duotone castrations? If wenact now, we may be able to see to itnthat the Art Strike is never settled.nIn the idea- and ideal-less worid ofnmodern art, we may have hit upon annotion whose time has truly come.n— Gregory McNameen