Posted by: The Amoeba | August 10, 2008

Qoheleth emeritus

Yet another repost. This one dates back to 30 January 2006 and the first incarnation of Felloffatruck Publications; I had only been blogging for a month back then. Earlier drafts of the poem date back another couple of years.

Qoheleth (translated into English as “The Preacher”, “The Teacher”, or “The Speaker”) is the name/title of the author of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes. You know, Vanity of vanities, Turn, Turn, Turn, and all that?

I have had many occasions these last several years to reflect on Ecclesiastes. Today – 10 August 2008 – was one of them, as I was confronted on several occasions with profound pettiness. Most particularly my own. A case of heat prostration brought on by a missed bus and an abortive attempt to walk 3.5 miles in a hurry, in dress clothes and carrying music gear, didn’t help matters any.

It seemed an appropriate moment to bring this one back.

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Qoheleth emeritus

    Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
      – Ecclesiastes 12: 12b (NRSV)

 
The professor sat in his office under the sun, it was empty but for the echoes of earnest literary babble on the small corners of thought.

He had had disciples, they had shared coffee and controversy and vowed to be the army that would show their world the error of its ways.

Most of them now sold insurance, one was aiming missiles at middle easterners, and at least two had, so far as he could tell, ceased.

His eyes strayed to the blotch on the wall, where his fountain pen had been the collateral damage of rage against editors whose obtuseness had blocked his progress to publication and promotion.

At that moment a boombox rapped past the open window, making its millions.

He had written a paper proclaiming in solemn footnoted jargon that Gertrude Stein had begotten Snoop Doggy Dogg – which one would be remembered, which one would condescend to his office.

It wasn’t even his office anymore, all his solemn footnoting had earned him was defeat in the space wars – literary babble had changed its tempo, a new conductor was wanted and he was to make the room.

She came in, jamaican strutting, to claim her own. He asked her what she studied.

Postcolonialist social text, sir

she said with pride and heat, and she would have assailed him with the theme and variations of her dissertation, but the professor prevented it.

May your work give you pleasure.

And while she gaped in non-assimilation, he handed her the key to the empty office and went home.

    Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all.
      – Ecclesiastes 9: 11 (NRSV)

 
  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2006 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.

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Responses

  1. I like reading these posts because it reminds me why I didn’t go into academia.


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