Out-Thinking the Box: An Academic Suicide Note By: Stephanie Hoover

I know in my cold lifeless heart

And believe in the soul that is questioned I even had

-that these things which I will share are true; as true as I am hanging here now.

In a world full of great minds -teaching the great minds before them -to the would-be, and hopeful, great minds to come -I find myself, here, conflicted.

Althusser might argue that I was doomed from the beginning. Because my education was already laid out and chosen for me -before I was even born. My gender, my race, my class-standing has determined so much of my life that I could never say I actually had a choice –whether that be good or bad.

Nietzsche may have tried to give me comfort in reminding me that everything was all just an illusion which I’d come to take as truth. And all I may have needed was to remember that the world was literally what we, (what you), made it, because there are no definitive truths; despite what we may say otherwise.

Shakespeare had unknowingly taught me that if you break the rules enough and decide to make up your own words that one day you may be immortalized for doing so -even if your authorship is questioned…

…but not today.

For today, I am nobody. Today I cannot escape the truth, even if it is all just an illusion. I fight with the fact that I could not have changed what was already to be before I was born. There has been just as little choice in who I was -as to who I might have been.

I am told to think outside the box, to add, slightly, to what is presently known (or) to UNVEIL SOME GREAT MYSTERY OF THOUGHT! However, I am also told that while I am encouraged to think outside of the box that I am to always remain confined within the box.
For while my predecessors, the great minds I am reminded of and taught of daily, challenged the system and thought freely -and are now, only outside of their time, renowned; I am told to “freely” think…

-so long as I remain in this damned box.


From this stifling box I can see a world of possibilities. I can almost touch change. I can smell the opportunities. But I cannot ever really make out the possibilities. My fingertips will long for a feeling they will never know. And I will only breathe the scent of –what if- as a passing season.


I am told to think and to fight, but only how my present world will allow me.


What are we truly learning when the system we’re in, the one we helped shape, the one that claims to be the vehicle of “free thought” and “change,” is telling us that we can’t think like this, we can’t change the world like that, we are to build only off of what someone else has said or done…


What we are taught contradicts what we are allowed to do and how we are allowed to do it.

Althusser didn’t write in MLA perfect. Nietzsche lacks answers which others attempt.

Shakespeare, we learn, may not even be the author of “his work!”


But! They’re still regarded as great. They’re still taught. They’re still significant.



If these “great minds”

were limited

in all of the ways others have been limited


Would we have their “great thoughts” today?

Or would their thoughts and arguments have been lost to the sea of


“in this format”

“this paper length”

“with this many sources”?


When we are constantly told to:


“think outside the box,”

to challenge and change the world,

to add to the world of great thinkers


—-but not like this

and definitely not like that;

stay in that goddamn box—-


How can I salvage my:


maybe, great-ish stepping-stone thoughts,

my slight additions,

my bent and broken rules,

my illusions and made-up truths,

my possible possibilities

my ordinary opportunities

and the building blocks I can manage to carry


…and get into that next box?


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