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The Scholar’s Lament

November 22, 2009

I attended a very unpalatable party hier soir. Allow me to set the scene:

A friend of mine is involved in what appears to be a serious relationship with a girl who was celebrating her 20th birthday. She is hardly the one for him, if you ask me, but I have refrained from mentioning my misgivings to my friend: I have come to realize that no one appreciates peanut gallery commentary from one’s friends when it comes to matters of the heart. In any event, out of good will and so on, I promised my friend that I would attend his girlfriend’s party. Had I known what I was in for, I might well have begged off.

In short, I simply cannot be in the same room as an undergraduate. Is that a terrible thing to say? It is a fact. Since I began working as a teaching assistant in September, my perspective has changed in manifold ways. There is a fundamental difference between graduate and undergraduate students. I have earned my place in the former category, and the chasm that separates it from the latter is, to my mind, untraversable. Undergraduates are too busy mating indiscriminately and partying excessively to bother expanding their intellectual horizons. It is most taxing to attempt a civilized conversation with a person who has never read the oeuvre of Foucault  – in translation, at the very least. (These days, it is too much to ask that Mommy and Daddy’s precious sheltered brat have reading comprehension of more than one language. Sigh.)

Alors, the get-together was off to an unpromising start. I had brought along a bottle of red wine, but it transpired that the hostess was not in possession of wine glasses. To me, in the context of a party, a lack of wine glasses is equivalent to a lack of toilet paper, if you will pardon my vulgarity. They are hardly a luxury item. Had I known in advance that a simple wine glass would be too much to ask, I would have brought a different libation to the party. I contemplated leaving the wine corked rather than doing it the indignity of drinking it from a juice glass, but, as I was surrounded by illiterate children, I felt the need to fortify my nerves. In vino sanitas.

By the time the clock struck nine, I was nearly mad with ennui. With my friend having snubbed my company in favour of that of his new partner, whose arm was draped possessively around his shoulder, I was standing off to one side by myself, perusing the bookshelves of the hostess. Never have my eyes beheld such a shoddy and haphazard library. It was as though this woman – I use the term loosely – had never invested in a book that was not part of the required readings list of an undergraduate course. I have lost much sleep lamenting the state of the human intellect in these modern times. As my friend abandoned me for a person of less weight and substance – literally et aussi figuratively – so too is our generation abandoning art and culture for iPods and pixellated pornography.

At a certain juncture I was waylaid by a gaggle – or ought I to say giggle? – of hyenalike maenads, real morceaux de travail, whose respect for my age and position made them insecure to a point where they acted out by mocking my attire. One of them inquired as to whether I had been under the impression that the gathering was “like, a royal banquet or something.” I replied that I had read the invitation correctly and was simply in the habit of dressing well. She squinted at me as though I were Phaethon. I assured her that if she studied hard, she, too, would some day be radiant with the glow of a future Master of Arts.

Some time later, all decorum had gone out the window along with the partially digested evening meals of several of the event’s attendees. It was suggested by the hostess that the living room become a dance floor. Now, I enjoy a soft shoe as much as anyone, but the so-called “music” that was soon reverberating through the apartment was tantamount to aural torture. The “song” I recall most vividly (and distastefully) was by an artist whose name, I was informed, was Jay-Z. In the alleged song, Jay-Z listed and described various types of women in what was often an unflattering and sexual manner. I turned to the guest to my right and asked him if he was not reminded of Semonides 7, but the young man’s brow became more furrowed than the farmland in Virgil’s Georgics after the trusty oxen had put in a day’s work.

It will be some time before I attend another social gathering. I told my friend that he is free to fraternize with whomever he fancies, but that I am a scholar with an illustrious future and much academic kleos ahead of me and I will not waste time at silly children’s parties when I could be working on my thesis or introducing my red pen to a series of disappointing first-year essays. Malheureusement, he did not take this well. I suppose even the best of friends cannot get along all the time.

Tonight, while the other guests of yesterday evening wrestle with the cruel henchmen of Bacchus, I am enjoying a quiet cup of tea and entertaining my insatiable mind with a Derridaean treatise. Two roads diverged, as the poem goes…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. cockrocker69 permalink
    November 22, 2009 10:23 pm

    Horrible dictu, sed terribilior auditu: credo tuum amicum meretrici se iunxisse!

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