Saturday, May 21, 2016

An RYS Flashback to a Post With One of the Great Titles of All Time. 9 Years Ago.

MONDAY, MAY 21, 2007

"May Your Perfidy Ramify Through Your Life." If We Only Had a Dime For Every Time We Said That.

Dear Students:

The collective attitude you have shown toward reading and writing during the past semester is neither new nor surprising. You are not well-suited to do either. To your credit, you hate ignorance, as I do. To your discredit, you really only hate being shown that you are ignorant, through encountering words and ideas that are foreign to you and your immediate experience. Rather than look them up and learn about them, as is moronically simple these days, you disdain them, and then complain that you do not understand them. This complaint is disingenuous because you show no interest in having them explained.

Rather, you want to be relieved of responsibility for knowing them, and for reading the works that contain them. In short, you do not want to be educated, or even to go through the motions of education. What you want is a degree, and if there existed a system of academic indulgences, you would gladly fork over four years tuition to receive one without having to waste time going to classes. For a little extra, you could get someone like me to drop by and, for about a half-hour, confirm your base prejudices, the ones you've gotten from television and the movies and video games and life in general. You have written about these prejudices incessantly: why brute force is an answer for everything, why the whole world, with its little invisible workers everywhere, has come together for your material and personal happiness, why you live in the greatest country in the history of the world, led by its greatest leader, why your ethnic group has undergone suffering that leaves you preeminent over us, who are all racists... I will not go on.

I have read your stories about anime characters, complete with super-deformed doodles, your tales of extraterrestrials and werewolves and vampires. It is interesting that your eyes turn to the supernatural world so often, since you have such an impoverished notion of this one.

Randall Jarrell, in Pictures From An Institution, a book you'll never read, anticipated a world in which people could do without culture. He likened it to a kingdom, where the king and queen have always observed the rituals of piety. Then, a man - an advertising man - tells them that they need do no such thing. They are surprised, but, newly liberated, they go to Mass - real fast - and then have a swift one at the club afterwards. You are just as enlightened as they are; your only problem is that the term does not pass swiftly enough to suit you.

From your perspective, ignorance is not a curse, and so I cannot curse you with ignorance. Nonetheless, I curse you. May your mergers not merge and may your acquisitions not be acquired. May your perfidy ramify through your life, so that all your dealings are as twisted as you are. May your lack of concentration result in an accident that kills you. May your illiteracy prevent you from reading some crucial document. And may you be transferred to Europe, where your lack of foreign languages renders you deaf and mute, and where your lack of culture will be seen for what it is - barbarism.

Oh, and don't worry about the evaluations. What you have to say is irrelevant.


  1. Still one of the best. Amen.

    1. I agree. This "place" has been home to some really amazing text.

  2. With no other class of students have I ever had a stronger sense of precisely this than with a class of 80 undergraduate education majors.