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Letter to a Professor

PostPosted: Sat Nov 23, 2013 4:08 am
by _________
Letter to a Professor[1]
1| The Preamble

Dear Professor,
This is an essay I've written to your audience. It has three parts. This is the prenominate preamble, which is the first part, and whose function I hold to be self-evident. The second, which concerns the action, isn't very long; the third, which concerns the reasoning, isn't very short. This essay is critical, and at times polemical in nature, so I repeat: I cannot impress enough that its objections are to the contemporary education machine, and not to the educator him or herself. I intend its tone to be reasonable, resolved, respectful, and scholarly, but also warm and with a touch of debonair.

2| The Action

I'm not going to submit the chapter twenty-two discussion board assignment, because I'm not going to watch and evaluate an hour-and-a-half long interview of Jack Abramoff's dirty deeds and subsequent insights into being a lobbyist (courtesy of Harvard), because I'm not going to simulate interest where I have none, and I accept the repercussions of my non-action.

3| The Reasons

The reasons are principles, ones which I feel I would be violating were I to complete the aforesaid assignment. If I am to endorse and submit a document which will in some way reflect upon my intellectual prowess, and if I care to be forthright and accurate, then it follows that I should endorse and submit such a document only if I hold it to be a forthright and accurate expression of my abilities … and if I care to be extraordinary, I should avoid the mediocre, the tepid, and the otiose; I should not make a habit of perfunctory study. If I did the assignment as decreed, my interest in it would not extend past my desire to acquire a piece of paper which I hear expedites the demonstration of my merits, and does so to a liable degree (which is much better than a credible one) … because actually sitting down and talking to someone is so operose. I'm reminded why I began writing of educational valetudes in the first place; meritocratic qualities—those concerning the demonstration of one's knowledge and skill in some or another area—are constantly supplanted by bureaucratic ones—those concerning letter grades, curricula referent to normative functions and coordinate planes (not individual aptitude), diplomas, intelligence quotients, teacher evaluations, transcripts, medical history, legal history and status, veteran status, social status, social security, ethnicity, religion, fraternity, magna cum laude, recent tax return, extracurricular activities, extraterrestrial activities, associate, bachelor, master, doctor, doctor of letters, multiple-choice, text-books[2], oh Monty, Monty, Monty … I really have no interest in all that ado anent alma maters, five-dollar fees, pissing contests, infinite regressions of redundant dictations, campaigns, and circumstantial pomp. Until such a time as the human race extricates its diathetic inhumanity, we will govern each other with rules in order to suppress the fuliginous id and ego present in us all. So long as we govern each other with rules, there will be loopholes; so long as there are loopholes, there will be those who use them to exploit the system; and so long as there are those who exploit the system, there will be equally authoritative individuals whose perceived duty is to counter-balance the exploiters—necessary dead weight[3], as it were. Just as every yin has its yang, the Republican must have its Democrat, the Liberal its Conservative, etc. … perpetuum mobile: so long as the impetus exists, the impetuous will continue to act on it, which will in turn impel the vindictive to go about articulating their penalties. “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he become a monster himself. And when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”[4] I'm not decrying politics as useless or anything, but I feel no urge to police others, I have no intention of getting involved in all that raucous caucus and political pandemonium past the issuance of my vote, and I consider myself capable of deciphering the legislature without the aid of some priggish newscaster or AP intelligentsia … so why in hell must I waste my ephemeral existence on something I'd rather not apply and have absolutely no desire to experience? Though a few hours may be but minutiae to forty-five thousand, I could play la cathedrale engloutie straight through before Lessig cuts the flow of accolades and accessories; I could listen to Tchaikovsky's 6th twice-over in the time it would take to finish the full interview. Alas … rubrics and bureaucracy. In point of fact, do we even run the machine anymore, or does it run us? “It is said that machines do not reproduce themselves, or that they only reproduce themselves through the intermediary of man, but 'does any one say that the red clover has no reproductive system because the bumble bee (and the bumble bee only) must aid and abet it before it can reproduce?'”[5] We wasps chase the orchid's simulation of our wives; we busy bees abide the clover for but a hint of honey from our queen. Busy, busy, bees about their busy, busy, business.
Bureaucracy is cold and mechanical, and those are not qualities with which I feel warm people should associate. I'm more partial to contemplation – of a sunset's shimmering and melting upon the horizon until the lingering tethers of its afterglow; the sublimity of a bamboo chiaroscuro fluttering upon concrete; the elegiac nostalgia of early Fall; the flitting to and fro of chickadees and finches endemic to the ornamental shrubs of parking lots; the aromatic variation between mangrove, gulf, and open ocean; the unique visage of sky reflected upon rain-dropped puddles in the street … .

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the correct way,
the right way, and the only way,
it doesn't exist.”


1: I cannot impress enough that this body of text objects not to the anonymous educator him or herself, but to the contemporary education machine. I use the footnoted word only insofar as it identifies the relationship between the author and said educator, and to reiterate the preceding sentence.
2: What is this thing, really? This book congealed through a process not unlike that which produces 'pink slime'; to condense literature, e pluribus unum, until we get this sort of 80bbl vat of homogenized text, faithful to its original form only on the molecular level, with the bones and gristle and ineffable netherbits diced and disseminated so exhaustively that we must take to the mush with loupe and tweezer, interrogating each suspect piece lest we continue to gnaw where even the vultures refuse – what are we to do with it? Thank you Pearson, plc. for correcting me. You see, I had previously thought that the quote in question – “If God doesn't exist, everything is permissible” – was actually written, '“Only how,” I asked, “is man to fare after that? Without God and without a life to come? After all, that would mean that now all things are lawful, that one may do anything one likes.”' (New York: Penguin Group, 2003. p.753) Indeed, I was right that it's from Dostoyevsky, but I thought it was uttered by Dmitri, not Ivan Karamazov, and done so in the Brothers Karamazov, not Crime and Punishment. Thank you also for informing me that Kant's categorical imperative boils down to the golden rule, and that he coined “fiat justitia, ruat caelum,” somehow making it back to 58 b.c. …
3: The professor in question had drawn a table in class the other day grouping certain functions of people (i.e., teachers, students, lawyers, et al.) into three categories: producers (or something to that effect), necessary dead weight, and parasites. He placed teachers in the first, lawyers in the second, and students in the third.
4: Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil. 1886, aphorism 146.
5: Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. New York: Penguin Group, 1997; p285. The authors in turn quote Samuel Butler. Erewhon, Everyman's Library. New York: E.P. Dutton; London: J.M. Dent, 1965; p.159.
6: Nietzsche again, but I can't for the life of me find where. Perhaps it was in a letter?