Oct 28, 2014

Repello Muggletum

Academia is a funny place. A place of dark, statistical magics and mysterious grand wizards, whose names are plucked from serious tomes and whispered with reverence in dimly lit libraries.

Basically, academia is like Harry Potter.

On the one side, you have your Muggles. Muggles live in the real world, and have to deal with real world problems, using real world tools and real world technology. The Muggles are like... well, really, they're like most of you.

And then you have your academic magic folk. Unlike the Muggles, academics are not constrained by reality. Real, schmeal, they say. Instead, they have magic wands, which they wave at problems the real world has never had to face, usually because the magical men and women of academia have conjured these problems out of thin air in order to have something to wave their wands at. It's a beautiful thing. Occasionally, the world of Muggles and the world of Academia will collide, but for the most part the system runs smoothly enough and neither world has to be overly troubled by the other.

But there are great divisions in the academic world. Disciplinary, for one. Disciplines are like nation states, divided by history and geography and irrational ideological attachment. For the sake of metaphor, we shall call my discipline Hogwarts. Molded by tradition but barely able to paper over a deep, sinister divide.

Within each discipline, comes the sorting by school. (You might think within each school, comes the sorting by discipline, but you would be wrong). Much like the Sorting Hat, the PhD application process (and later, the job market process) appears at once completely arbitrary, and deeply fated. My school, I posit, is Hufflepuff. Mostly harmless, but diligent and eager to please.

So here I am, a second year at Hufflepuff, trying to make my spells work and my wand behave. Danger and death awaits me, I have been told. Not real world danger and death, though, just magical danger and death. Which somehow doesn't sound quite as bad.

Do I miss my life among the Muggles? Sometimes, I admit. But I find it harder and harder to remember a world without portkeys and trolls and confundus charms.

I am no longer a Muggle. Now, I am a Hufflepuff.

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