‘Becoming Meta’ by Hawa Allan​​

Melissa Mesku

It’s all well and good that specialized knowledge can put one in a coveted position of being an indispensable advisor—one who can supply knowledge that is in demand. [W]hat is missing … is how one gets to be the one who does not have to know.

If knowledge is power, as they say, then why are the powerful so stupid? It’s a naive question, but the relationship between power and knowledge is something I have an almost Foucauldian obsession with. A better question might be, if knowledge is power, does that make it a weapon? If it is a weapon, who gets to use it, and how? In this excellent longform essay, Hawa Allan maps the borders between personal and institutional power and knowledge through her experience as an ambitious law student and later law firm associate. What hooked me early on was her knowing position: In my experience, all institutional education was rife with illegitimate authority and bullying, so I didn’t see why law school should be especially different. In a well-crafted slow reveal, we observe how Allan comes to know what she knows—how she became meta, as they say. For her, knowledge was something that I came to possess and stockpile, like ammunition. Knowledge became less a thing to be shared and more a weapon with which to defend myself….