Wednesday, May 14, 2003

My Enemy

Regular readers of Silentio will be pleased to know that your desktop companion here now has an enemy!! YAY! It's been quite some time since I've had an enemy. I remember my first enemy quite well, but that's only because it was the shortest-lived enemyship (that's not a word, but it should be) I've had ever since. I was about six, he was seven, but in the same grade. But, alas, he was a Jew. I'd never known a Jew before, so I didn't really have any reason to dislike him. Ah, but then he told me one December afternoon that he didn't celebrate Christmas because his family didn't believe in Jesus. WHAAA? Not believer in Jesus? To a callow Sunday-School-attending six-year-old mind, this was beyond belief. Yes, so thus began my three-minute anti-Semiticism. Why only three minutes? Because he showed me some of the stuff that he got the previous evening for Chanukah and what he anticipated getting that evening; it took me a few years to get over my resentment at not being Jewish. Not only did My Former Enemy get cool gifts for several days, versus my piddly one, later I learned that all the guilt I felt for those sins my Sunday School teacher kept reminding me about could be absolved IN ONE DAY if I were a Jew. *Sigh*

Anyway, this isn't about My Former Enemy, who I've not seen for, oh, about twenty years now, I wonder where he is, if you're named Daniel (I've forgotten his last name) and you think you're him let me know and we'll hang. No, this post is about My Current Enemy. His name, which matters not to you, and matters to me only because he is My Current Enemy, is A. B. Okay, that's not his name, and it might not even be his initials, but that's hardly the point. What're you gonna do, track him down and beat him up for me? C'mon, grow up. Anyway, not so long ago, but before I started my doctoral work, he was my deparment's golden boy, back before the insurgence of infidel agnostics and Muslims and the subsequent de-emphasis on CHRISTIAN theology. I, personally, don't have a problem with his philosophy or theology -- frankly, I hardly even know, nor do I care at all, what they are. No, my problem goes much deeper than that, which in this case means that it's more superficial. My problem is, as I told him, at first by accident (not realising he was nearby) and then by a redacted repetition when he asked over my shoulder, eyebrows raised (you know how I dislike that!), 'What did you just say?', is that he is an 'arrogant tit'

If you can imagine the sort who feels compelled to bombastically and dramatically voice his opinion through declarative fiat, normally just before the conversation is over, you'll be moving in the direction of an A. B. The fact that they are often slightly misogynistic and homophobic don't help ingratiate him to me or my department -- 'my' department in this instance does not denote the department as a whole, but those who agree with me (natch). (Interestingly, and this completely beggars belief, he's not even finished his PhD -- from [why is this not a shock?] Cambridge -- and he was offered a year-long fellowship, at the tune of £20,000 ($32,000, for you Americans out there). Gahhh!]

Oh drat. As is usually the case, it would appear as though I've already spilled the beans about the story's climax -- lest you've forgotten, the part where I finally explode, though that's to make the scene far more violent than it really was, and refer to A. B., in so many words, as a bloviating boob. A bit of context may be necessary, though, to understand the (so-called, but obviously exaggerated) explosion, to see it in its insubstantial glory. You see, I've no doubt that A. B. 'knows his stuff' (a quote from a friend of mine who somehow likes him), but his preening hauteur really confuses me. I guess I should expand this a bit, since you've no idea who I'm talking about specifically, and publicly affirm my conviction that the hubris shown by much of academia is a bit silly, considering that its cultural status today doesn't come anywhere near the societal value it claims to represent. (Two things pop into my head right now: (1) how poorly my academic friends are paid, not to mention the debt I've accrued to join their ranks; and (2) the curious fact that so many these same friends (and me???) hold the most unfeasible of political persuasions -- the power of theory!!) More importantly, and this is back to the specific criticism of My Current Enemy, because the community of academics is so small it makes me think that anybody, e.g., A. B., who goes out of his way to alienate so many people in that community is not only social-stuntedly arrogant, but is uncommonly ignorant. Actually, come to think of it, I think the redacted repetition to which I alluded above, was something along the lines of '[you are] an uncommonly ignorant tit', but I can't be sure whether I invoked the mammary gland the first or second time around. After all, the diatribe was a bit long, and I'm sure parts didn't make sense at all, considering my inability to say (or write) consecutive simple sentences without violently including wildly deviating parenthetical asides; but I've definitely had the presence of 'tit' confirmed by a third-party who has long referred to A. B. in private by other (male) body parts.

Hence, My Current Enemy.

Update: Crak points out in the comments that I, heaven forbid, did not make much sense in this post. Yesterdays (and part of today's) readers may or may not agree, but I respect Crak's opinions all the same, even if he's not completely explained them in those same comments, in private email, or in the the illicit IM chats of which we sometimes salaciously partake. Okay, they normally just consist of pretty banal quid pro quo to soothe the quotidian horror of our respective lives. Anyway, I've made some changes, in honor of Crak. There were some obvious typos, omissions, and some things that didn't make much sense, mostly because of the typos and omissions but also because of some rushed syntactical goofs. Nevertheless, I'm sure he'll 'scoooorn' me anew for missing his criticism, or at least for not waiting for him to explain, but that's something I'm willing to risk.