Talking to Deltas about Liberty – Part 2   Leave a comment

The request came in by e-mail around 2 in the afternoon.
It was from a previous customer, and she had urgent business..
I quote her message here verbatim (if I had to put up with it, so should you):

“You did me ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?”

I’ve gotten pretty good at interpreting this kind of correspondence. The client had attached a document
from her professor with details about the paper. She needed the first section in a week. Seventy-five pages.

I told her no problem.

It truly was no problem. In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature,
most on very tight deadlines. But you won’t find my name on a single paper.

I’ve written toward a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology,
and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy…

… You would be amazed by the incompetence of your student’s writing. I have seen the word “desperate”
misspelled every way you can imagine. And these students truly are desperate.
They couldn’t write a convincing grocery list …

… yet they are in graduate school.”

— “Ed Dante”
The Shadow Scholar
( )

I find it rather hard to credit that someone could be in Graduate School, yet so illiterate she can’t write at a Grade 2 level.

Especially considering my own experience in that immiserating Hellhole: Frequently up till 2 or 3 in the morning for days on end toiling over a typewriter with a bucket of white-out: This was long before the days of “Word” or even “WordPerfect”. For 6 agonizing years (don’t ask) I normally poured out “blood, toil, tears and sweat” on term papers, not to mention all the rest of the useless rubbish, only to have them returned with a with a “C” … or a “D” … or even an “F”… Sometimes they would come back with a “B+”; I felt like a little kid in kindergarten awarded a sticker!

But I never got an “A” for any written work that I can recall, not so much as an “A-”.

As I got a bit of experience in University, I wanted to believe, I dared to think, that I could kinda… “get a feel”? For what the mark was going to be ? …

But honestly? Every time, pretty much, it was a crapshoot. No guarantees. “Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances!” was the faculty’s attitude. Which was nerve-wracking in the extreme because I needed an overall B- average to graduate. Thus another thing I wonder: How Mr. Dante could write scholarly papers on a graduate level for functional illiterates like that aforementioned poor soul and be assured of a better track-record than mine? Anything I ever handed in — from about Grade 6 on, even the failures, was light-years better than his client’s note — But I graduated only by the skin of my teeth and “Uncle Fester” (the Department Chairman) giving me the grades to get me out of there…

Then again.. I look around me and I don’t wonder, quite so much… It’s 35 years since I was in College, and the remorseless dumbing down foisted on all of us courtesy of the Academy and the Media, continues its relentless deadly work. Nearly 100 years later Herr Doktor Spengler would appear to be vindicated.(1)

Hey: I call it as I see it.


*..... *..... *


Meanwhile regarding Mr. Borowitz I posted back to Diapnosophes:

“This is so goofy and so wrong on so many levels! Please understand: “There are no political solutions to the problems the US is facing. The outcome of this election is meaningless one way or another.”(2) As for the Educational “System”? It is doing precisely what it was designed to do: Churning out an endless stream of Walking Dead who are incapable of initiative or independent thinking. Learn about John Taylor Gatto and Ivan Illich and what you were a part of.”

Had a brief e-mail interchange with him via Facebook and what I got from him in recollection — his original e-mail is long gone — was blank incomprehension at what I was trying to tell him, asking me to the effect that “if politics can’t solve America’s problems what would you recommend?”(3)

Then he unfriended me.

As to learning about John Taylor Gatto or Ivan Illich, Diapnosophes, I regrettably imagine, would be unlikely to do anything so constructive, after having like me wasted his foundational years in the cesspool of incompetence that was our university’s music department, then going on to a, um.. “career”.. in one of Canada’s provincial public education gulags. I on the other hand was kicked out of the education stream by the menstruous schoolmarm in charge of it, Mrs. Cloaca Maxima; went in for the course selection interview for third year; without a word of warning to me she then sent a note to the Department Chairman (Not Uncle Fester: He in the meantime had had his nuts unceremoniously handed to him on a platter for his sexual peccadillos) stating she couldn’t recommend me to the education program “due to my temperament and personality” — just as if she had any right or business doing any such thing — and this mind you, on 5 minutes acquaintance. Never spoke to her before, never saw her ever again. Think it was because I contradicted her when she said “you’ll of course be going into the band stream” and I said “No, I want to do classroom music.”(4)

Thus I wound up in the “Honors, music performance program.” I didn’t fight it, all I wanted to do was get the Hell out of there.


*….. *….. *


The crowning outrage for me 35 years on, is if I too obviously identify that university or any of the faculty thereof I could be the target of any number of lawsuits; never mind their studied indifference for their student’s welfare or putative futures, their complete neglect in talking about anything important, the utterly mind-numbing excoriating waste of time, of all of it.

Not to mention the money squandered in tuition fees and textbooks I haven’t opened since.

What did any of that fatuous, agonizing, multi-year hazing ritual have to do with playing oboe in a symphony orchestra?

What did any of it, have to do with anything? Damned if I know.

But you have to do it if you want to get anywhere in life, and you’d better be good at it, and be willing to waste years in it: Sometimes well over a decade after high school.

I alas, was not good at it.

We now have children of 35 — you who are reading this know this as well as I do — who are still in school, studying God Knows What, having never done a lick of productive work their entire lives, and likely burdened with a crushing student loan debt they have no chance of ever repaying and they can’t declare bankruptcy on.

And frequently getting someone like Ed Dante to help them with it.


*….. *….. *


Somehow, against all odds, I managed to score a professional gig. Nothing stellar, it was one of the Canadian Forces military bands. I emphatically didn’t want it, all I wanted to do with music by then was quit, but my parents pressured me into applying for it, and it all unfolded with the grim inevitability of a Greek Tragedy.

Within a week of my arrival at that band, the local symphony called to see if we had a decent oboist; off I went to play 2nd oboe in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier.. First time I’d ever encountered that particular work of Richard Strauss.

To be brutally honest it was the first time I’d ever heard of it.

They left me gasping in the dust. My time working towards a Bachelor of Music (Performance) Degree from one of Canada’s allegedly best universities and it left me no better prepared for real musical work than that: 35+ years later as I approach 60 I often wonder if I’d have been better off spending the money and time I wasted in University on recordings and scores and teaching myself.

I can’t see how I could have done any worse.


*….. *….. *


I lasted in that Kafkaesque band an astounding three years: Some Christ-Awful mistakes on my part at the beginning — because I wanted to be in the military about like I’d want to be consigned to a hospital for the criminally insane — and a relentless whisper campaign by an alcoholic and embittered Master Warrant Officer eventually took its toll and I was fired, on fabricated charges on about the lowest honourable release category they could get away with; fired by a imbecile of a commanding officer who couldn’t conduct 4/4 time on a bet. In fairness to those abominable thugs, I hadn’t a clue, at least not in the beginning, what it was, to be a professional musician. But right along with my undergrad’s faculty, along with my own, the mind-numbing incompetence of these people was not merely surreal, it was sublime.

After the Army was finished with me I was a basket case. I knew I was in rough shape, but just how rough, I only divined when I attempted the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Orchestral Training Program(5): I had a nervous breakdown and for 15 years, I could not bear to listen to music.

Such are the benefits of a Liberal Arts education.


*….. *….. *


So what does this sad little fugue have to do with Andy Borowitz’ micro-rant, Ed Dante’s charitable work, and the elevation of Citizen Trump to the Presidency? Good question. But I actually think (and hope I’m beginning to demonstrate) that in the aggregate — and south of the border — it has plenty to do with it, and it is certainly not due to the alleged ignorance of the people who voted for him. I think it has far more to do with a system that consistently selects for incompetence in authority and the consequent failure of all our institutions, not just the academy. A system, I must add on re-reading my post, that no longer even pretends to serve us. My experiences in university and the military were and are by no means singular; I know of one individual who committed suicide thanks to the abusive idiots. That charming video at the beginning of my post, Ed Dante’s story, that tryptich of photos, are the cumulative results of what was my experience 35 years earlier.

The personal qualities, the self-management skills, the focus, that you need to be a successful musician, would be pure gold in any field. Did my professors ever talk about any of that? Hell, no. Did they speak relentlessly and length, how important it was to know the orchestral and operatic repertoire inside and out, how hard you had to work, how good you had to be, just to do an audition, never mind get the job? Hell no. Did they ever mention things like “it is rarely too melodramatic to say that your destiny hangs on the impression you make”?(6) or: “So much depends upon reputation. Guard it with your life.”?(7)

… Hell no …

No, none of that, from them: My time in university was largely spent in writing imitations of, and writing about, and analyzing, 16th-century counterpoint… or stuff about as germane…

… Truly relevant, useful and important stuff, 16th-century counterpoint …

Right to the bitter end, I did my best to believe I was getting something of value for the investment of my time and money. I wasn’t. Like so many others, I was sold a worthless bill of goods. This summer over a jug of draft with a cousin I finally did with my degree what I’ve wanted to do with it for decades:

Tore it up and tossed it in recycling.

More to come.


1. Oswald Spengler: The Decline of the West. First volume published in 1918.

2. “Waiting for Clarity on the Brink of Oblivion”: Read it. Now.
( ).

3. “The Survivalist” is a place to start. There are lots of others, and lots of books. Do your own thinking and research.
( )

4. Cloaca had a reputation in the department for being “a bitch of the first degree”… About the only flavour schoolmarms come in, on reflection…

5. Alas, long consigned to the trashbin of history. The one I was in was the third to last I think.

6. A quote from Barbara Walters.

7. Robert Greene: The 48 Laws of Power. Law #5.


Posted March 31, 2017 by Capt. Roy Harkness in Uncategorized

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