Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A la recherche du temps perdu

An oddly jerky little 2014 movie called The Historian details the unravelling of various academic lives in the claustrophobic history department on a small heartland campus.

I spent a lot of time in academia. I loved learning. Still do. The professorial culture, however, not so much.

The film contrasts the petty lives of the people whose job it is to serve great notions. Eros, of course, dismantles everything. Here, with the upbeat ending, it also brings wisdom and even post-traumatic thriving.

Pettiness is the dominant atmosphere in this part of the world. As the saying goes, the reason professorial politics is so vicious is that there's so little at stake.

From my current vantage point and interests, it strikes me that academic males have a manhood issue.

I remember a very self-important professor who asked me to accompany him to an orchestral concert one evening. It surprised me, since I was not a favorite of his. On arrival at the hall, he proceeded to ignore me entirely. Entirely. All evening. And on our next encounter, made no reference whatever to the event.

On a couple of other occasions, the famously temperamental tyranny of college teachers came my way. It is certainly no new insight to notice that high intelligence does not drive out assholery. In either males or females.

Daniel Donovan. Gregory Baum. Joanne McWilliam Dewart.

And you have no idea at all who they are.

Which is how it ought to be.


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