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 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 ?
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