Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One of Many Notes We've Received About Walt.

Maybe I'm a buffoon, but I really care about the whole Walt problem.

I admit that I'm a fan, and I come back to RYS fairly often hoping to see his name (and disturbing likeness). What "really" happened with his recent departure from the site is really not my concern. (I'm about half sure that it was all an act, anyway...)

But what I do want to say is that Walt, whoever he is, is one of my academic mentors. I beg you to find a way to let his voice ring out again.

Okay, he's a nutjob. He's likely a little insane. But his posts have actually encouraged me to be less fearful in my career, and no advisor or colleague or mentor has ever been able to do that for me before.

What Walt does (and what this whole page does, really) is offer up the courageous path to all problems. He doesn't recognize fear or weakness. He blusters through acting as if he were right, as if the work he's done to become Professor Walt entitles him to lead the way in his own career, his own classroom, and in his own research.

Of course it's overblown and hyperbolic - what on RYS is not? But whenever I finish a Walt post I'm more prepared to face my own situation here at Mediocre and Sad College Where Dreams Go to Die.

Some Walt-isms that I love:
  • If you can touch three walls of your office at one time, you're a BIG FUCKING LOSER.
  • If you get an office in some building's basement, then you went to the wrong grad school, girlfriend.
  • Finally, a special shout out to those cretins on the job path. Oh, they are lovely, sweet dears, so persecuted, so incredibly sure that the system is out to spoil their chance at success...all the search committees have ganged up to find ways to make them unhappy, and when they do get interviews, they imagine senior faculty Stanley is flicking boogers at them, and not playing along with the modus operandi which is supposedly: "We welcome you and your intellect, and can't wait for you to show us how it's done, you 27 year old fucktard."
  • It seems that all I do is write to you assholes to tell you to get all four wheels on the highway. You're always veering off, taking little pictures of the scenery, buying trinkets for the folks back home. Fill it with gas and let it rip. Burn up the 4-lane, and quit looking in the rear view mirror to see if your passengers are happy. The shitheads and the weenies will hop out a window on a curve, and the folks who want to take the trip will be back there anyway. Turn down the voices in your head, and turn up the Foghat. Don't make me come down there and kick your asses.
  • You know what people should see when they look at your [office] door? Wood. That's it. Maybe a small piece of paper with your hours and name. Anything else is just jerking off.
  • least those of us who are real American professors, sure of ourselves, not crouched in a permanent fetal position like 95% of our kind, standing strong, teaching it right, calling it crazzy when it's crazzy, and being real when real is like so out.
  • I mean, do you ever go by the faculty club and see the losers in there? If they aren't wearing bibs, they should be. And lately I've been spending a couple of minutes each day hitting the academic blogs to see what's out there. I can barely contain myself. I end up snorting, retching, and peeing my pants so much you'd think it was 1975 and I'd just gotten back from an Eagles show in Riverside.
  • Oh, and English profs. They're delicious. They always have the nice Shakespearean fonts on their websites, a big quill next to their unbelievably white faces. They're always writing about how summer will bring them to England or Scotland, where they will trudge down some muddy trail to where Wordsworth once smoked a big bowl, or where Coleridge once ate a beaver because he thought it was Mary Shelley.

It seems to me that I've been surrounded my whole career by folks who don't say what they mean, folks who play the academics-as-politics game. I feel that I've been encouraged by colleagues and administration to let students walk over me in favor of higher evaluations and more FTEs!

Walt is one of the few people I've "met" in the academy who says it like it should be, and I think we're poorer for not having his voice on the site.