In a message dated 10/28/98 7:19:38 PM Eastern Standard Time, [log in to unmask]
> >Formfit factory, they renamed it the Brahaus.
> Uplifting thoughts from academe, to be sure.
> See Ken, they can't be all bad.
I'm constantly misunderstood. Academe is fine by me as long as it respects the
value of knowledge residing in the rest of the world.
Many of us, including academics, envy wealthy people for the fact that they
have money. One of my friends has more money than I can imagine having. When I
walk through a hospital with him, going up to look at a roof to bid on, he
makes a point of smiling and politely saying hello to all of the geriatric
patients that we pass. Everyone else walks through to the roof as if these
people were mannequins and not worthy of interrupting their important
business. I watch my friend and realize that despite anything else going on in
the world I have to respect him for his human kindness. It does not cost
anything to be kind or accommodating of others.
My harping on academe focuses on my past conflicts dealing with people who
have a wealth of intelligence and yet treat the remainder of the world as if
it were full of mannequins. I believe that one of the mystifications that
academic institutions succumb to is their self importance. I value both the
truck driver and the scholar.
I was brought up in the public school system of Tompkins County, home of
Ithaca, NY and Cornell University. My schooling was in an academic fast-track.
I was precocious in sciences, history, math, and philosophy. I was a clown,
freak, and general trouble maker. I was a townie, my mother a phone operator
and stepfather a ??, depending on the year in question. All through school the
tracking of the teachers and adults was that I would go to college, and
anything less than Cornell was out of consideration. Mechanical trades,
woodworking, metalwork was for the stupid kids. I liked the stupid kids, and I
liked the smart kids, equally. When I graduated from HS, in the middle of my
class, I went in another direction than academe, for a lot of reasons -- some
having to do with Vietnam, some not. The reaction of many of my friends, who
went on to follow in the academic track, and of the academic community in
general, and my status-conscious relatives, was very unpleasant. I went
through a period of culture shock. I felt less than human, finding myself a
failure, suicidal, drunk, drugged out, and a bastard without a vision of hope.
Eventually I found myself in stone masonry, mentored by an old man that hated
the world, but loved stone and liked to teach. Now I feel like St. Augustine
relating a personal history of salvation. I spent many years working as a
stone mason in the Ithaca area. I felt best when I was out in the rural areas
working on farms. Pounding on the stones was what I needed to survive.
Building perfect working fireplaces, and I built more than 100 of them, was my
intellectual challenge. There was still Cornell. I made heavy use of the
libraries, spending many rain days sitting in the stacks at the architecture
library, or skulking around the campus. I thought I wanted to be a poet, so I
read a great deal of weird stuff, and attended a lot of readings by famous
poets, and read my poetry in public. Though I still write poetry, I came to
dislike socializing with stupid poets. Though I tried to I enjoy the "scene",
I was often laughed out of it. Eventually, for several reasons, I got to the
point that I was too paranoid about being a "working man" to be seen in
public. I spent a lot of time hiding. Then I moved away from that environment.