My tenured colleagues sometimes get offended when I compare academe to a cult—of course they would, they're in the cult! Still, they must recognize the similarities. In literary studies, for example, we have our own lingo—French-theory jargon, which is nearly impossible for outsiders to parse. We have quasi-scriptures from worshiped nondeities—Derrida, Foucault, Merleau-Ponty—which we recite, from memory, to win arguments.I guess since I haven't read or quoted M-P in 25-years I must be not be a member of good standing in the organization... yet I am.
Note how the metaphor of the "cult" allows her to evade responsibility for her own ideas. She was brainwashed! What alienated her from her work was simply that she couldn't get a tenure-track job. Otherwise, I surmise, she would be perfectly happy doing intellectual work she doesn't care about. Maybe she worked in a grad program so intellectually isolated that nobody knew that jargon has not been fashionable for at least 10 years. Everyone I know hates it. That Derrida peaked about 1990 (in American academia), and Merleau-P. about 1975.
Here is here in Slate making a similar argument:
There is unquantifiable intellectual reward from the exploration of scholarly problems and the expansion of every discipline—yes, even the literary ones, and even if that means doing bat-shit analysis like using the rule of “false elimination” to determine that Josef K. is simultaneously guilty and not guilty in The Trial. But there is one sort of reward you will never get: monetary compensation from a stable, non-penurious position at a decent university.