Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carla Flood.

A fair amount of material has come in the past 2 days concerning Carla, Mike, and the current battle between the Ivies and the "rest of us poor fucking schlubs who went to East Central State University of Podunkville." Below are some of our favorite bits.
  • I pity your assistant; what is he supposed to learn from you with your callous disregard for teaching? Or perhaps he's just another "nickel wrapper" whose existence serves to furnish a comfortable room for you in the Ivory Tower?
  • Don't forget, Carla: you would never have gotten as far as you have today without teachers. Try and show a little gratitude.
  • Oh, I see. Carla's a LOSER.
  • Carla, you and Ivy can piss off to whatever self-congratulatory circle-jerk you two so graciously took time off from. Your disdain for teachers, students and the classroom in general is nothing short of morally repugnant and I hope to the Sweet Lord Jesus (who is the Christ) that you never inflict yourselves on anyone who actually gives a goddamn about your field - whatever the hell that might be. I don't hate you because you're both from an Ivy league. I don't hate you because you're ambitious. I don't hate you because you've got nice jobs. I hate you because you're insufferable fucking pricks.
  • There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to focus entirely on research instead of teaching, raising a family, or growing tomatoes. But Carla is banking that she'll produce produce brilliant research that will change the world, like the smallpox vaccine, the Internet, and theory of relativity. The vast majority of research is read only by a handful of specialists as a professional courtesy - tracts on gender politics in country-house poems, ten-year studies that produce no conclusions. The odds are stacked against her, but Carla is prepared to work hard and not complain. She may very well succeed; I have to admit that she seems fiercely driven and her reasoning is sound: teaching isn't less valuable than research, just different.
  • Good for you, Carla, that you're just so much better than everyone else. Way to go. Yay you - I'm sure your Nobel is already in the mail. My question to you is: Why do you feel such a compulsion to convince everyone of how important you and your work is? Why do you have to beat the dead horse about what an elite school you went to?
  • This sort of nonsense drives me crazy -- the idea that career trumps life, that one measures one's life in conference papers given and articles published, that intellectual banter is only to be had with other careerists. But what really bugs me is her talk about training. I hear such talk often as part of a rhetoric of humanities professionalism -- "our training," "our graduate students are trained to," and so on. In humanities study, I'd suggest, there's no such thing as training. Training is systematic, rigorous. Reading and learning are relatively haphazard matters, with courses taken for all sorts of reasons, and works read in no uniform sequence. Thomas Merton had a great story about walking into the wrong room and ending up in a great class with Mark Van Doren. Of course if "training" means something like what people do with dogs -- obedience, all that -- maybe Clever Carla has been well-trained. Paper-trained.
  • I suggest that Mr. Ivy and Clever Clara get together and groom each other like the apes they are. Even if their scholarship has some social utility, which they have not even suggested themselves, these people are cancers on the body politic. Teaching the young, now, there is something with some actual value. And on a personal level, can you imagine engaging in some "intellectual banter" with either of these smug little creeps? Okay, back to rolling the nickles . . . I can do it on the backs of my four published books, stacked atop the pile of leading journals containing my publications.
  • I will bet dollars to doughnuts that neither Carla nor Mike's respondent attended Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Don't these writers know that "Ivy" is code for "second-tier ag school in upstate NY" or "Penn?" And also strongly implies, "I went to a shitty undergraduate institution and am now pathetically trying to overcompensate?" Can't we just agree to abandon the word "Ivy" to the desperate parents seeking to impress their neighbors with their kids' college admissions?
  • Ivy and Carla make me want to shoot myself in the face! Since when does having an Ivy League degree exempt you from being a person and make you a special superhuman research machine? I attend graduate school at an Ivy, and though I would probably not ever admit it to my adviser, my greatest ambition is just to be a happy person. And if having a few publications is a part of that, then fine, and if having a dog and living in some tree-lined town in the Midwest and teaching at a third-tier liberal arts college is a part of that, then that's fine too. Your scholarship won't ever change the world, but your behavior as a person and a member of your family might.