Friday, May 2, 2008

Compretensile* Tales

Okay, so everyone is clear on the fact that I’m a bit of an elitist as well as a smarty-pants wearing kind of guy. But for fuck’s sake, I was raised on a farm in east Texas. I’ve earned by stripes.

Last night at the Fulbright meeting—granted, a rather elite organization in and of itself—I was struck by how certain kinds of intellectuals, academics, and students were much more palatable to me than others. Namely, I felt quite at ease chatting with sociology and music professors. Even the high school language teachers were remarkably worthy of my time. And as always and as for most people, I’m impressed with neurologists and anyone else who sticks her/his hands inside other humans. (Within limits, of course: I’m only referring to trained medical professionals here.)

But when one student announced he was earning an MBA, I felt a wave of Sartrean nausea wash over me. There is nothing like one rancid, quasi-academic apple to ruin the whole barrel. I mean, why don’t we just start handing out Fulbrights to applicants from the American Truck-Driving Institute or any of the mock universities like DeVry or Phoenix?

I have no problem with people merely wanting to make more money, but don’t try to pass yourself off as an intellectual or cultural diplomat in so doing. Moreover, how completely self-unaware does one have to be in order to merely want to make more money but ask for funds from American taxpayers via a non-profit organization such as the Fulbright Commission? I guess if we’re willing to hand out the cash, then they will always be more than willing to take it. Greedy bastards! Which is probably what led them toward an MBA in the first place.

I have no respect for the “degree.” I do have, however, several friends—many whom I respect and adore—who have undergone such remedial common sense programs at supposedly respectable institutions of higher learning. But don’t ever try to tell me that they’ve ever done a bit of good aside from increasing their salary. You want to study cake decorating at the Art Institute (an arguably laughable amalgamated moniker)? Fine, go ahead. You want to earn a higher wage for not a lot of effort? Sign right up. But if you want to truly be educated, your only recourse is to enroll in a real academic program at a real school.

After submitting an outstanding panel proposal to a conference yesterday, I thought one of my next creative projects would be to organize a bogus panel filled with “academics” from the above-disparaged institutions. Perhaps something along these lines:
  • “Lévinasian Semi-Ethics: Meontological Theology and the Eighteen Wheeler” by Billy-Joe Bobblekopf, ATI, Automotive Repair Program
  • “Heidegger’s Word: Dasein (as Design) from the Ground of Being” by Suzie Galvan, Art Inst., Fashion & Retail Mgmt. Dept.
Now it’s time for me to return to my underpaid academic world that remains utterly superior to everyone else’s. (Even though it is a public university.)

* a combination of comprehensive, apprehensive, pretentious, and prehensile

1 comment:

  1. So I happened to be present at Saturday's graduation ceremony, and the "normal-majored" speaker made a crack about how lit majors begin their education with Dr. Seuss during freshman year and move on up the literature-ladder until senior year, when they culminate their studies with Stephen King.

    Is it wrong that I was more offended by the transcriber's misspelling of "Dr. SUS" on the bigscreen than by the lameness of the joke itself?

    I think you should add "imbecile" to your collage.