Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Meaninglessness of Life

Nothing in the world will convince you more quickly of the meaninglessness of life than listening to humanities professors. The following is their job in a nutshell (yes they are all nuts and yes, they do in fact live in a shell and I report it to you after years of shell-dwelling which means that when I say the following I mean the following, that is, following after a lot of other preceding things, i.e. lots of reading.)

Consider this a meta-example. And by the way, any time you wish to be taken seriously by any of these creatures, simply paste the word “meta” in front of any noun. (A noun is a word that is a person place or thing. This is a gentle reminder in case you were too busy making fruit loop necklaces to watch the particular episode of Sesame Street in which nouns were discussed. Disc…ussed. Discussed. Discussed! Discussed!!) “Meta” This is the secret recipe for an A. For an A+, simply sprinkle in 1 “ostensibly,” 2 or 3 “putativelies,” and an occasional “epistemological” for garnishing. They fall for it almost all of the time. Warning, a typo such as “mega” in the intended up-sucking place of “meta” will invariably backfire and get you a bad grade. If your early years resemble in any way those of the shell-dweller (The early years: Step one: have the fortune to be born into a family that has a reasonable fortune. Otherwise you will never have the time to contemplate those essential quandaries of life that are the humanities, questions which, though essential you may not happen to ponder if your family is not bourgeois and you have the chronic habit of activities such as, say, eating. Step two: Have the misfortune of having neurotic parents) As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself with such an impolitely long parenthesis, if your early years resemble in any way those of the shell-dweller, you may find yourself at an ivy-league school, a first-tier state school or a small, private liberal arts college which means your bad grade would be a B. (C’s are reserved for retarded future presidents). If you do not fulfill virtual prerequisites one and two (see obnoxiously long parentheses above), you may be at a second-tier state school or a community college in which case your bad grade will be a D or an F. If you have not attended college, there is no chance you will have kept reading this far.

The adolescent shell-dweller gets struck at an early age by the meaninglessness of life. Once put into contact with a course in philosophy 101 the natural shell-dweller finds him or herself spouting sophistry in no time. Put him or her into anthropology 101 and she or he will begin systematically writing him or her, himself or herself, he or she (or any variant such as s/he) or, simply putting all pronouns in the feminine. This last tendency is particularly pronounced in the sub- shell category of the white male. If you have ever indulged in the idea that men in the humanities are generally a bit girly, indulge away! This is an inevitable side effect of working in the humanities. Incidentally, this is the ideal habitat for the straight but girly male or the smart but only marginally attractive female with the exception of the members of the French department (not for the girly men of course. To say girly male and French professor is practically redundant). Female professors in the French Department however are always hot. Ou la la!

After future shell dwellers have read a bit of Kant, Nietzsche, Derrida, Kristeva and the cliff notes to Aristotle, Plato and Aeschylus they begin to become intolerable. This is the period during which they are known as “graduate students,” otherwise known as that TA from hell with the stick up his (or her) posterior for whose sustainable wage and benefit package you will nonetheless go out to protest provided the protest coincides with your writing seminar/snormenar.

A shell dweller has reached the peak of his (or her) maturity when he (or she or s/he) has managed to have gone through the process of being struck by the meaninglessness of life, converted it into an enormously self-righteous ego and begun to take everything that surface dwellers find boring and assert its incontrovertible significance after having forgotten the meaninglessness of all but the most glaringly obvious of meaninglessnesses. Yes. I am talking about your comparative literature professor. Your anthropology professor’s ego got so big that he or she got wedged in a cave in the Congo between the rocks with traces of what appear to be either the markings of the ancient Igbo tribe or the Ekiko tribe (a controversy of hot debate! Run for your life if you ever find yourself alone in a room with an Igobist and an Ekikotist, things are gonna get ugly). The secret to getting tenure, my dear esteemed colleagues, is to take yourselves far too seriously. Master this one essential principle and the very mention of your name will sear fearful awe into the soul of all graduate students and you will never have to grade a stupid undergrad’s paper again!

In short, the career of a humanities professor is a sado-masochistic war dance that pits self against self, then any monotheistic God, then student then graduate student then colleague of the latest up and coming school of thought respectively. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, get me some philosophy (and Madame Poulet’s phone number s’il vous plaĆ®t)!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

tl;dr: everyone else is a joke.