Ms. Tight Bun , philosophy , cesspools , and soup

Last year we said  ” Things can’t go on like this ! ” ;  and they didn’t . They got worse . “—— Will Rogers

I heard Joan B. say this same thing to an assistant principal at Virgil M. S. years ago . She said , ” Things get worse around here every year .”

He said , ” You say that every year . ”

And she said , ” Because it’s true every year . “drawings 2

And so we go .

I often read the Opinion section  in the paper , and I glance at Facebook posts , and  I read sometimes somewhere else how rotten the world has become . It’s terrible , really . Rotten .

My friend Willie had that pointed out to him by a cop long ago just after Willie had emigrated from England . The cop , after writing him a speeding  ticket , sped off on his motorcycle , shouting as he went , ” It’s a cesspool out there , Bill ! ”

Welcome to America .

Let me ask you this . If you are enjoying a nice bowl of delicious soup and a fly nose-dives into it , what do you do ? Do you throw the soup out ?  Or do you throw the fly out ? [ answers may vary ] .

I throw the fly out and eat the rest of the soup . It would be a different story if  an army of flies nose-dived the soup .  Thus , for most of us , I think , there is a tipping point , a threshold . How many flies do you fling out before finally giving up on the soup ? One ?  Two ? How many ?I want a policeman poster

So , not being a philosopher ………in fact , owning an astoundingly full storehouse of ignorance specifically about philosophy………………

I took some philosophy courses at the University . First one was called ” The Philosophy of Knowledge .”    The first day the professor and some of the class talked about a chair that sat at the front of the lecture hall . ” How do we know it’s there ?  ” the professor asked . Oh , a group of enthusiastic classmates jumped right in to the discussion . They were percolating philosophy , emanating philosophical concepts . More students joined in . It was fascinating , evidently , to everyone except the chair and me . We both sat there intellectually vacant , and , not to insult the chair , self-consciously  dim-witted .

I tried the textbook that night ; stuffed another sloppy load into my ignorance storehouse ; went over to the Registrar’s Office and dropped the class . I think that I went to the Registrar’s Office . It’s been so long ago that I can’t recall how one dropped a class .

Now that I’m talking about dropping classes , I remember how I didn’t drop an English Lit. class once . I had written a facetious essay comparing Beowulf and the Nixon administration .  I was a freshman and this had been our first assignment for the class —- five pages on the good and bad motif in Beowulf. No doubt my essay was not well written and rather inane . But , heh ? I was there to learn , to improve my writing , right ? Maybe I had a long way to go . So ?

Each student had a private conference with the professor to discuss the result of the assignment . She had blond hair tied tightly in a bun at the top of her head . I mean tightly . It looked painful . It was distracting me as she verbally eviscerated my attempt at academic humor .

This professor , Ms. Tight Bun , obviously saw no humor in English Lit .  This was her life’s work , after all .  Is hubris the correct characterization ? Was it English Department professor hubris ?  If Ms. Tight Bun had sharp fangs , she probably would have displayed them . She held her boiling anger under control , at least desperately tied down , much like her tightly tied hair . How dare I insult English literature ! , I suppose she meant .

” So , I suppose that you will be dropping the class ,  ” she said .  She said that in a sharp tone , maybe similar to the sharp thud of a guillotine blade  as it  hits  it’s  mark .  But , no ,  I had no intention of dropping the class .

” Why would I drop the class ? ” I asked . ” I have no intention of dropping the class . ”  I wasn’t intentionally trying make her madder , or to be defiant , or to be confrontational .  She began to explain that my Beowulf/Nixon  essay kind of self-evidently announced my intention to bail out of the class ,  like a Parthian shot ?


I should have explained to her that I wasn’t much of a philosopher . I could have asked her , ” How do we know my essay is really here ? ” or something like that .  ” Lighten up ! ” I could have said , ” It’s only going to get worse ,” or something like that .  As it was , I guess,  she had no professorial power to kick me out of her English Lit class .  It was probably an awkward moment for Ms. Tight Bun , feeling trapped , no doubt ,  with this  heretic in her  class .

But , I didn’t want to quit . One learn’s from one’s mistakes . Or from differences of opinion .  With practice ,  I could get this English Lit stuff .  And , a little humor wouldn’t hurt , Ms. Tight Bun ,  sometimes .

Some of you ” The Sky Is Falling In ” commentators should take note , too .

This is my kind of philosophy :

When we remember we are all mad , the mysteries disappear and all is explained    —— Mark  Twain

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