Home > Politics > Academicians/Scholars and Celebrities: Is there a difference?

Academicians/Scholars and Celebrities: Is there a difference?

As I sat there listening to Dr. Norman Finkelstein speak, for the second time, to a crowd of 500 students at York University in Toronto, Canada last week I couldn’t fathom the idea of the awe and amazement that engulfed us all as Dr. Norman Finkelstein entered the lecture hall. I was overcome with feelings of joy and anxiety coupled with the “ooo la la”  factor that served as a premise for wanting to see Dr. Norman Finkelstein speak in the first place. Could it be that it was almost as if I was seeing Natalie Portman for the first time?

After being fortunate to have seen many scholars speak including Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ramadhan, Gideon Levy, George Galloway, Imran Khan, Yulie Cohen, Malalai Joha and many others speak this sense of glorification and celebtrity-esque attributes seem to repeatedly surface time and time again. Book signings, the herd of people/students lined up for hours and not to mention the utmost opportunity to take a picture with the guest at the demise of the lecture serve to be more important than perhaps the substance and topic of such scholars lectures.

As listeners, readers and followers of such scholars and experts, do we choose to drown ourselves entirely and move past what such speakers have to say or are we so heavily bounded by the dynamics of Hollywood that it has become essential for such scholars to market themselves similar to that of actors/actresses?

I stand guilty as charged when considering the pervasive nature of associating the notion of stardom to present day academicians and scholars as for me after having spent years and years of reading the works of such scholars, being able to witness them in person is the cherry on top…(not to mention it has provided me with the once in a lifetime opportunity to engage in a face-to-face conversation, a platform to ask questions and furthermore create life long friendships)

…but is that such a bad thing?

  1. February 26, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    A good reflection. It is not a bad thing at all in response to the closing question above. It is human nature. A symbol perhaps of drawing closer, affinity with the person who spoke inspiring thoughtful words. In a deeper sense the longing within the human heart, mind and soul to draw near to Truth itself, and thus the desire to meet and talk with such intellectuals is maybe an outward expression of a deeper inner yearing that lives beyond the immediate experience.
    Professor Chomsky, Professor Finkelstein & Gideon Levy in my experience as generous individual. Noam Chomsky being ofcourse in a league of his own. Thank you for insightful thoughts.

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