LOST WORK: THE COLLECT’D WRITINGS OF ST. HERETICUS – THE INTELLECTUAL DIARY OF A COLLEGIATE WASP

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The following satire was written by Robert McAfee Brown.  It appeared in the book The Collect’d Writings of St. Hereticus (1964) and is reprinted here for posterity.

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THE INTELLECTUAL DIARY OF A COLLEGIATE WASP

(WASP = White Anglo-Saxon Protestant)

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Freshman Year

Arrived at State U for freshman orientation. Eager to use these next four years to “clarify life goals” (cf. open­ing speech of Dean of Men).

Went to opening chapel service. Decided to shed chapel for next four years in order to develop own point of view, though will resume church attendance when have family.

Signed up for course in logic. Discovered logical posi­tivism on first day. Shed belief in God but still retain belief in power of man’s reasoning capacities.

Read Lord of the Flies for freshman English. Shed belief in power of man’s reasoning capacities, but still believe in psychoanalysis, which could have saved them all (as our English prof so well put it).

Finished introductory psych. Not sure whether am Freudian, neo-Freudian, Jungian, neo-Jungian, Adlerian, neo-Adlerian, or disciple of Harry Stack Sullivan.

Shed psychoanalysis. Embraced mysticism.

Spent entire weekend studying Zen Buddhism. Noth­ing happened, so shed mysticism.

Spent three days working out new world religion appro­priating best from each existing religion. Surprised no one ever thought of this before. Explained new religion to roommate, who couldn’t accept belief in All-Cohesive Source of Reality. Shed world religion idea.

Re-read Catcher in the Rye for ninth time. Rediscovered phonies. Realize to my relief that everybody in dorm is a phony, that parents haven’t got a clue what I’ve been through in last ten years, etc. Wrote freshman theme on ducks in Central Park.

Finished course in physics. Shed causation and deter­minism but recovered belief in power of man’s reasoning capacities.

Sophomore Year

No recollection of sophomore year, save for discovery of moral relativism. Shed everything else. Got very tired.

Junior Year (Fall Semester)

Took course in French literature. Discovered Camus. Now believe in the Absurd. Am on abyss of nothingness.

Shed abyss of nothingness temporarily to exchange tweed sport jacket for ticket to fall dance.

Fall dance a flop. Back on abyss of nothingness. Ready for the leap.

Affirmed meaninglessness of existence in term paper. Got “A-minus” and comment, “Well-organized paper.” Still getting ready for the leap.

Leaped into the arms of Faith. Faith Moriarity only girl in entire junior class who really understands me. Shed fraternity pin.

Junior Year (Spring Semester)

Have become socially conscious. Signed petition urging UN employ economic sanctions against South Africa for its handling of race problem. Have publicly stated will not drink South African sherry until they repeal race laws. Also signed petition urging right of Negroes in Alabama to live in white sections of cities.

Weekend spoiled by long fraternity meeting. Pinkos in sophomore class urged we go local because national office insists on retaining discriminatory clause in charter. Argued we should abide by wisdom of more mature minds in national office. Have nothing against Negroes, Jews, and Orientals, but feel person should be allowed to choose who he is going to live with.

As result of fraternity wrangle, have gotten new vision of American Way of Life. Busy writing term paper on best way to export American Way of Life to uncommitted nations. Glad to find something I believe in 100 percent.

Read James Baldwin. Shed American Way of Life.

Spent weekend with family. Expounded James Bald­win. Listened to reactions of father’s friends. Shed James Baldwin.

Senior Year (Fall)

Engaged. Ready to lick the world. Adopted optimistic evolutionism. Nothing too hard to tackle. Can’t wait to get out of here and start in.

Senior Year (Winter)

Realized big job decision lies ahead. What has educa­tion prepared me for? Amalgamated E representative says big field for refrigerator salesmen in tropics, chance to travel, see world, make contacts, get ahead, export Ameri­can Way of Life. O.K., except don’t like tropics. In fact, don’t like Amalgamated E.

Senior Year (Spring)

Engagement broken. Crushed. Shed optimistic evolu­tionism. Affirmed tragic sense of life (cf. Unamuno paper­back). In defiant gesture of despair, knocked over cup of coffee in Student Union which spilled on freshman co-ed.

Senior Year (Spring: Ten Minutes Later)

Have date for spring dance with cute, if coffee-stained, freshman co-ed. Shed tragic sense of life (cf. Unamuno paperback). Resumed optimistic evolutionism.

Senior Year (Spring: Ten Days Later)

Have finally made firm decision about future. Feel after one more year of thinking, things ought to fall into place, particularly through employment of power of man’s reasoning capacities. Therefore have appointment with Dean to discuss possibility of graduate work.

 

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