I first encountered the theory in this piece in a core class of my writing program, Rhetorical Traditions, which was basically a survey of movements in rhetoric/philosophy dating back to Ancient Greece. There is a certain nostalgia I hold for this course. It was the spring semester and I was in still in a long honeymoon phase with my first girlfriend (as a girl), who loves tea, and so I got a lot of tea on cold mornings as we sat together in the Socratic seminars excitedly talking about theory as if we actually understand any of it. We had to carry around The Rhetorical Tradition, 2nd edition, a large tome of the Western rhetorical canon. And while I hold a fondness for that romanticized college image, what is more important is how much I am only now learning from that class. Really, the most important classes in my undergrad were courses I did not understand at the time, that left me feeling lost. They tore apart my view of the world, left me asking questions, but didn’t provide me with answers. This was partly my fault, taking upper level electives as soon as I possibly could (and in place of gen eds or reqs). I have the same pdf file of The Society of the Spectacle that I annotated for the class and, judging from my notes, I clearly didn’t get it. But my teacher was one of those great lecturers who makes me think she knew this pay off would happen years later, who taught many of the classes I was lost in, who focused so much more on teaching us how to read these sorts of texts, moving from translations of Isocrates to Foucault (both with their syntactic idiosyncrasies) in quick succession.
Marxist philosophy now gives me some of those answer. It explains much of the way people act and why the world is like it is today. It can be hard to be told that we are acting according to what some highfalutin academics say we do, but it can also be liberating to see the strings, the foundation, the curtain. Theory, I firmly believe, is necessary, because language shapes the world. We can shape it with our words too.