King of Night Vision, King of Insight
Let me first express my gratitude to the blog masters for not only inviting me to contribute to this venerable forum, but for awarding me my own feature. I shall forever strive to earn the honor already bestowed upon me.
I was trolling around in the electronic archives of The Onion this week and stumbled upon the following headline:
Giant Cockroach In Bathroom ‘A Harrowing, Kafkaesque Experience,’ Grad Student Says
Pure brilliance. After falling on the floor with laughter, I was finally able to collect myself and read further. The article details the encounter of “poverty-stricken Columbia University graduate student Marc Edelstein” with a giant cockroach in his bathroom, inevitably leading him down a long path of convoluted ruminations on the human condition. The fictitious Edelstein continues:
“Every day, I can’t believe I am living in that apartment. The humiliations society forces me to undergo, just to get my stupid PhD, defy all rational, intellectual thought. Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning and see the squalor in which I live, it feels as if I’ve somehow found myself on trial before a group of faceless, bureaucratic agents for some horrible crime I didn’t commit, and no one will even explain to me what my crime was.”
Truer words were never spoken. Staring down the barrel of my own fast-approaching PhD exams this fall, I was led to reflect on the traumas that I have personally suffered at the hands of my own professors. Forget Guantanamo. You want torture? Enroll those guys in an Ivy League graduate program. You won’t be able to stop them confessing.
For your enjoyment, the following recovered repressed memory:N.B.: All names have been changed to protect and preserve the anonymity of the innocent (read: me).
In the course of my graduate career, I was asked by one of my professors if I would make an early-morning trip to a coffee shop — 45 minutes away — the next day to pick up a guest lecturer (let’s call him Dwight K. Schrute — sigh). Of course, this call came at ten o’clock the night before, and the round trip to the coffee shop meant that I would have to leave at six the next morning to get the speaker back to campus in time for his presentation at nine. Fine — even if I knew my professor would never give me the gas money he promised. Fine — even if I had watered his plants and picked up his mail and administered his 7 a.m. exams the previous summer. I had seen the fliers for the lecture and was interested in the topic (i.e., Galileo’s influence on religion in the Enlightenment). And I wanted my professor to stop “losing” chapters of my thesis. There had been, incidentally, two different kinds of posters made to advertise the lecture: the first consisted of a description of the lecture accompanied by a distinguished-looking portrait of the guest lecturer next to the mahogany (of course) shelves in his office; the second, more widely distributed flier was almost identical, but instead featured a portrait of Galileo. Back to the phone conversation:
Me: “Ok, so Dwight K. Schrute will be waiting for me at the coffee shop at 7:30.”
Professor: “That’s right. He’s a pretty tall guy. He’s got dark hair and wears dark-rimmed glasses…”
Me: “Oh, right. I saw the flier earlier today.”
Professor: Silence. For five seconds. “Ummm, that’s not Dwight K. Schrute…”
I soon realized that he had only seen the Galileo flier, and assumed that I thought that the portrait of Galileo was a picture of our speaker. Really? That’s not Dwight K. Schrute? Really? I was going to wander around the coffee shop until I found a guy in a ruffled lace collar and codpiece. I’m so glad you said something. Otherwise I would have wandered aimlessly for hours looking for a guy from Queene Elizabeth’s Royale Theatre Troupe…
By the way, have you had a chance to look at those chapters yet?
Entry filed under: Phenix Friday.