Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Anthropological Notes 3

I have spent some time lately reading other blogs. I like Above the Law and find The Faculty Lounge interesting. There is another blog, however, that makes my efforts at exposing the bizarre word of  privileged professors look feeble, at best. On that blog one can easily find commentary over days and numbering close to triple digits on what to do if someone does not keep an appointment or if an email is quoted. There are issues like just how oppressive it is to grade exams.  Just go there and forget about this blog. Entire dissertations could be written about the characteristics of the culture you will find.

It is somewhat like a faculty meeting -- a great deal of aggressive self-interested behavior carefully disguised so as to appear like civil discussion.  It's amazing the number of ways people can tell others they are idiots but maintain their deniability. And, some of the butt kissing is embarrassing. When you like someone's post or comment there are congratulatory platitudes that will make you want to look away. "Thank you for doing this, and for contributing to thoughtful discussion on the internet." says one. Another goes with, "An extraordinarily gracious and knowing post." And how about,  "This post is a remarkable act of introspection and self-interpretation." And what are these comments referring to: The Gettysburg Address? Letter From a Birmingham Jail? Meta World Peace's after game commentary?

Not exactly. These comments are for an admittedly privileged and sheltered law professor who wondered "out loud" on a blog what one might do to overcome the handicap of privilege. Yes, in a sense he was wallowing in the self pity induced by knowing he has it made. No, I am not kidding and I want to quickly add that I do not think the writer of the original piece was fishing for this level of gushing.

In subjective competitions it is said that judges keep the scores of the first competitors low in order to save something up if another competitor blows them away. What have these commentator held back? What do they say if they read a spectacular article or a moving poem. Maybe "Your analysis of Citizens United made me weep." "I knew from the first line that I was not worthy of your genius."

Remember, this was for someone -- one of their own -- who basically asked "Is there a way for me to be less of a jerk."

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