The Llama Scribe

April 4, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — antoinette jeanine @ 5:48 am
Tags: , , ,

A short while ago, I wrote on the unveiling of a McSweeney’s contributer as an adjunct professor in the very same English department with which I have recently been able to align myself.  Since said revelation, I have been gradually pouring over Oronte Churm/John Griswold’s McSweeney’s writings, the Dispatches from Adjunct Faculty at a Large State University.  I have found his articles so startlingly affecting that reading them at work- and McSweeney’s makes terrific work reading, as the site has no vaguely or starkly elicit sidebar advertisements- will often lead to the kind of emotional reaction that my months-long, Everest-like conquest of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States often provoked last summer. 

More often, however, I am struck by the well-flung accuracy of Professor Churm/Griswold’s observations of this department, which after only three months I am still exploring and comparing to my prior experiences with the music school.  For instance, given my struggle to adjust and deep cynicism encompassing the entire project of higher education, this passage from “On Tenacity” seems particularly prescient:

“The mass of students I’ll see lead lives of quiet desperation. Hinterland U. attracts the best of the really-very-good students in the state, but if they could have gotten into or paid for Harvard or Berkeley, they would have gone there. Humanism is not their main concern. They are expected to go to college by their entire middle-class suburban culture and are dutifully doing just that, for the reasons told them: getting an education means greater lifetime earnings, and besides, Zane, if your Uncle Billy can get a degree, anybody can.”       

Strangely enough, I’d always concluded that the professors and graduate students tasked with furthering my exploration of and appreciation for works written in the English language were hugely resentful of my inability to fully commit to this project, the obligatory commitment that is undergraduate school.  Then again, when I do force myself to become immersed in study, I often thoroughly enjoy the work that I am given- but, of course, not nearly as much as when it is self-motivated.  I resent being forced to have my time wasted by a certain English professor of film criticism, whose largely incoherent and shrill tangential lectures rely heavily on her ability to perform in-class Wikipedia and Google research.  But, more than that, I regret that my own ungrateful disposition has resulted in the wasted gifts of the good professors, the ones who do not seem to resent their work and their audience quite as much as she.

I registered for classes today, and in performing pre-registration research, I desperately searched for classes that might have already been assigned to John Griswold.  Tragically, he was nowhere to be found.  But, more tragically, if I were able to find him, I’d probably treat his class with the same unbridled disrespect that I’ve exhibited in regard to each and every class that I’ve taken in the past three years.  And it’s different with the English classes; in place of the loathing and muddled, irate confusion which I bore for music theory and, to an extent, music history classes, I feel no need to perform to what might be a higher potential.  I’ve been told that I have the ability, but I have no desire.  

I wonder if that will change after graduation.  I wonder if I will chance upon employment which challenges and inspires me, as I’m sure about 5% of working Americans have.  Far more likely,  I’ll find a job that I don’t entirely hate, and I’ll complain about it and only apply myself sporadically, in spurts; after all, I’ve been training for that scenario for as long as I can remember.


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