Misadventures of College Man.
Tuesday, August 5, 2003
Education Rolls Off the Assembly Line.
at the Academy.
Look! The Oak Morphs into Linoleum.
SPECIAL to corndancer.com
from the Planet X Think Tank
at Bald Mountain near Rachel, Nevada
A friend of a friend from a poor southern state of the United States of America forwards a previously unpublished narrative relating the misadventures of non-traditional College Man.
We borrow from it, loosely.
* * *
Alexis said, "College Man arrives at the end of the line, creaking."
Ruth said, "The University is third-rate, exhausted. Look! It accepts his application for admission."
Balint said, "Pharisees preside over the classes. They act on the platform of the diktat. Their output emanates from the imperium of the Academy."
Molly said, "The instructors are hostile, adversarial toward their students. Look at them, wagging their meaty fingers."
Cleotis, affecting the tone of the street, said, "Er uh, the scholars refuse to enroll there. Go 'head, go 'head, go 'head on."
Tarik said, "The bone-setters follow the bone-breakers and the skull-crushers onto the quadrangle and the sward."
Diana of the Sorrows, keening before the fact, said, "Woe be to everyone in the time of the Dissolution."
* * *
f(x) = 1 Bag of Ashes.
An albatross hung like a bag of shriven ashes on the low points of College Man's psyche. The wandering bird carped at him like a seafish in the wake, like the subterranean creature of cynicism it was becoming, first flying, then swimming — it didn't matter, the wind or the water, whatever mixture of metaphor that emerged, because the truth was that the sum total of it all, the flying (f) of the diving (x), drove him to distraction.
The chatter and ceaseless turbulence of the new classroom unsettled him, leading to mundane sins. Once ago he glided on the oaken floors of Mountain U., dancing the jig of the rootless scholar. Now he was driven by circumstance to a lowland river valley, where he morphed into student as consumer of the industrial output of an education factory. Goods and services jumped off the byted pages of the dot.edu catalog like fashion models leaping from the thin pages of Wal-Mart flyers.
The floors are linoleum now, the banisters plastic, the ceilings low, the windows permanently battened down.
The function of (x) was a graph of the rise of industrial capitalism, the reflected fall of the intellect into negative infinity.
* * *
No Time to Meditate.
The Professor Woman of the Lowlands, an escapee of the imperium, said, "The nuances of prepositions frequently lead the reader astray. Is the narrative written by College Man himself, or did someone else create the narrative in his stead?"
Alexis said, "This is Godot-land. Who can stand here long enough to wait for the clarity to appear? Does the correct choice of preposition matter when the Academy is under assault?"
Tarik said, "Who's attackin' the Academy now? The scholars in our neck of the desert seem complacent enough. They burrow into the arroyos looking for bones and battlements."
Molly said, "For what purpose? To what end? The struggle for grades — A, B, C, D, F — supplants College Man's intended Meditation on the Function of (x). Who can find time to meditate when the assembly line is rolling? I alone uncover the purpose of College Man's narrative: to unmask students as consumers, professors as assembly-line minions, chairs of academic departments as shop forewomen and shop foremen, deans as fatted calves in the refrigerated conference rooms, plotting the onrushing term's production goals."
* * *
Starving at the Table of the State.
Did you know, Sir, that College Man today became the very first intellectual on the North American continent to "no longer find sustenance in the established order," thus foregoing loyalty to the State? By his singular act, College Man announces the dawn of the revolution. (He refuses to reveal the source of the quoted phrase. Not even a clue.)
* * *
Ten Points Off!
Viva la revolucion! Are not intellectuals anarchists at heart? They abhor natural order in lieu of a preordained canon. Critical thinking reigns, becomes a reign of terror. The scholar is subjugated to the bottom line, tossed about the classroom by the indifferent tempest of academia.
What forces propel the tempest? Ha! I have an answer today. Come into my shop. I give you good price. Here. Listen. Put your ear to the thin wall. They are saying that the forces behind the tempest of academia — repetition confirms and strengthens habit, and faith becomes natural — are called by the names "ineptitude," "inflexibility," "indifference." The forces define the dogma, which is dutifully embedded in general education courses, then quickly forgotten, so that no one, not even the creators, might understand the original intent. The dogma defines the latest set of university requirements, but the set fails the horizontal line test. It cannot become legitimate function. The imperium harnesses the tempest, empowers it as a gust and a blow into the forward-seeking form of the student.
"Ten points off. You didn't follow the format," the professor intones, dismissing College Man's homework as "less than" optimum. The professor is joined at the hip to the imperium. "I drop your score by one letter grade, effective immediately," she announces with the flick of a ballpoint pen.
A to B, you bad man. A to B. Ten points off!
But.... But.... "The information you request is well stated in my journal," College Man responds. "Please look again. Your instructions aren't so clear."
"I'm sorry you feel that way," the voice of the imperium says, casting the counter weight like a spike into his outstretched plea.
"What might feelings have to do with the issue?" College Man implores. "My complaint is strictly objective in nature."
"Wrong form, wrong form!" she responds. "Go away. Go. Go away now." Her voice dashes from her mouth like the scream of a banshee. It races into the room as a shriek. She is shrieking.
| David Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles |
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