We’re only 10 minutes into lecture and my roommate Graham is drawing a mobile bullshit-launcher in his notebook.
The stick man has his pants down. He’s sitting on a toilet mounted on a tank chassis. There’s a little bullshit gun on the nose, fed by a pipe running from the toilet. A heads-up radar screen and joystick gives total bullshit control to the student.
Graham shows me the schematic and I can’t help but snicker. Maybe I’m getting judgmental in my final quarter, maybe my BS radar has been honed by years of experience, but Jesus, there is a lot of crap flying around in my classes this quarter.
I can physically see it sailing through the air. The professor goes, “The subject-object relationship in this story is complicated. What is the author saying about this?”
In reality, the professor is dumping a massive dooky in his hand and throwing it into the ceiling fan. The bullshit splatters everyone.
A soiled student raises his hand and says, “Well … like … no one really likes being an object … so …”
The student has just crapped in his hand and lobbed it at the teacher. But the teacher is wily. He deflects the turd like a ninja.
“That’s a good point, but what about something else, something to do with the narrator?”
The student is outgunned. The teacher walks over and pours a bucket of raw sewage about hidden symbolism and a renaissance painting on top of the kid’s head
Graham and I, we cower in the front row like Gallagher fans. Stinky turds of theory come sailing into the crowd. I try to block with my notebook. Graham covers his head with his hands.
I think it’s fun, but Graham can only cope by twisted doodling. The class goes on, the professor moves slowly through the text and talks slower. My ADD kicks in and he starts sounding like the Peanuts teacher:
“Wah, wahwah, wah, wah.”
I tune out and write a short story about the apocalypse. Graham listens to all the kiddies have their say on existentialism and he can barely contain himself.
“You know, these people need to say what they want to say three times in their head, then think, ‘Is this necessary and relevant?’ and then, still, they probably shouldn’t talk.”
I totally agree with him. A twisted side effect of a liberal learning institution is the stupid people get just as much air time as the smart ones. They get more when you consider how many people with intelligent things to say just shut up when the idiots control the room.
The problem bothers me for the rest of the hour.
Maybe it’s a fundamental learning problem? We’re here to learn theory, not practical information. As far as I can tell, theory is just bullshitting so well that no one can see through it.
Another student weighs in on what it means for someone to live life as though they are “counterfeiting eternity.” The teach tries to help, as though we had all the time in the world.
Maybe it’s a language thing? Every word means different things to different people. These people barely understand what they’re saying. They barely know what a preposition is, for Christ’s sake!
Their truth is bound to sound like bullshit when they tell it to 50 other strangers with completely different contexts for all those abstract words. It’s impossible for people to ever really understand you; hence, hell is always other people.
I start to write.
“These classes are going nowhere. We’re all just learning to work our jaws. How many of us can blow off the reading, come to class, read a paragraph and weigh in on a subject? My guess is most. We’re just good bullshitters.
“It took me almost four years to learn how little I know and that these people can’t teach me anything I won’t better understand if I learn it myself.”
The class ends and I burst out into the September sun with my half-written column. I turn to Graham for a light:
“You know, I think this Negative Thinking class is really starting to pay off.”
I take a deep drag of Camel Light.
“Really!?” Graham is shocked. “I was ready to start shooting people! I wanted to go postal!”
“I feel you man,” I say. “Luckily, I have an outlet.”
Daily Friday editor and senior English major David Downs likes to blow his chances for an ‘A’ by shooting his mouth off. He’ll be right here next Wednesday, but will you?