Wednesday, February 9, 2005

What academics do for fun

This is why it's such fun to be an academic. Of course, it's also why we're the target of ridicule from anti-intellectuals on and off campus. But frankly, after trying most of my life to find something else to do (see here, here, and one more that I read a couple of times by linking to Bitch PhD but can't find now (it's a general blog by a woman who works as a waitress in North Carolina, I think, and is so reminiscent of my own experiences that it's painful to read, even the funny bits), I'm pretty happy to work in any "industry" that gets all googly-excited about new ideas, even if many of them turn out to be lame. I should note that I'm not suggesting that popular culture a la The Boss is not worthy of serious study—at this point, since no one reads and no one writes and, judging by the most recent election, no one , popular culture is pretty much all we have left.

Back in graduate school, a smart and sassy friend hyped up a visiting Big-Name Academic as "the Bruce Springsteen" of American Literary Studies, causing an avalanche of witty e-conversations about the mechanics of tossing panties (only warm ones will do) at Professor Big-Name, PhD. How does one actually extract her panties during the talk, especially when dressed in the essential scruffy jeans that convey the necessary Serious Intellectualism?

As I recall, some Serious Marxists in the department accused us of Bourgeois Tendencies incompatible with the Revolutionary Objective of getting a PhD in an obscure subject, with which we could join the ranks of the marginally unemployed and utterly exploited. Plus one woman figured out that it would be pretty easy to remove a thong by simply snipping one side. No muss, no fuss—until they land on the podium. [Serious question; if undies/panties are plural ("they'), should I have used the singular "it" in my last sentence? Probably. But one is the loneliest number, even for a thong.]


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