Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Position at the University

We are off on a road trip this afternoon. I don't know that West Virginia would have been my chosen destination for either live theater or getting out of Ohio for a day, but that's the way things work sometimes.

I leave you with the news that I am definitely going to be reading Professor X's new book In the Basement of the Ivory Tower when it comes out on Thursday (see his interview).  The interview and comments, with what I see as the circularity of the arguments about why he has to be anonymous and how the tenured don't get that, make me think of this prose poem by Lydia Davis:

A Position at the University


I think I know what sort of person I am. But then I think, But this stranger will imagine me quite otherwise when he or she hears this or that to my credit, for instance that I have a position at the university: the fact that I have a position at the university will appear to mean that I must be the sort of person who has a position at the university. But then I have to admit, with surprise, that, after all, it is true that I have a position at the university. And if it is true, then perhaps I really am the sort of person you imagine when you hear that a person has a position at the university. But, on the other hand, I know I am not the sort of person I imagine when I hear that a person has a position at the university. Then I see what the problem is: when others describe me this way, they appear to describe me completely, whereas in fact they do not describe me completely, and a complete description of me would include truths that seem quite incompatible with the fact that I have a position at the university.

Enough of that nonsense, I say! On to some other nonsense, adolescent yammerings about sex and freedom (Spring Awakening).

10 comments:

Mumsy said...

*grins* Nice.

Hugh said...

I didn't know that West Virginia was a day's drive from anywhere.

FreshHell said...

Ha! And, Hugh, I can get to West Virginia in just a few hours.

Ella said...

I was in West Virginia a couple days ago and it SNOWED. Be warned.

readersguide said...

I've been to West Virginia, too! briefly . Hey Jeanne -- have you read That Old Cape Magic / Richard Russo? I'm just starting it, but it has a certain amount to do with academics. I'm liking it so far --

PAJ said...

You know, Jeanne, West Virginia is about half way between our two homes. Perhaps we should meet there sometime...
You'll have to provide a review of those yearnin' youngens in WV.

Jenny said...

Love the poem! I have felt that sentiment ever so many times. :p I am also going to read Professor X's, book, but I am mildly set against it because I read an excerpt of it and Professor X went on about how womenfolk are more kind and sympathetic than teh menfolk and that's how come womenfolk professors are more likely to give undeserved grades. #snarl

Jeanne said...

Mumsy, glad you liked it.

Hugh, as it turns out, Huntington WV is almost exactly as far from here as Indianapolis.

FreshHell, it would be halfway point for us to meet, but as PAJ is reminding me, WV is not a place we want to meet anyone, after trying it one terrible and memorable night in a downpour.

Ella, it was spring down there, with flowering trees. It snowed on us on the way back home today!

ReadersGuide, I have not read much Russo; I think Empire Falls is it. You'll have to give me a review.

PAJ, the trip was a success. Probably because my expectations for WV are so low!

Jenny, of course I'm known for being kind and sympathetic. Ask any of my former students.

bermudaonion said...

Having lived in a University town for 8 years, this book and its premise fascinate me. I knew people who thought they were superior because of their "position at the University," and others who thought very little of it.

Jeanne said...

Kathy, having always lived in an area dominated by a university or college, I don't really have a lot of perspective on it, aside from the usual town/gown conflicts.