What-It-Is to be an English Major
To Act is so easy.
To Think is so hard.
Placebo Domino In Regione Vivorum
“When there is much desire to learn,
there of necessity will be much arguing,
much writing, many opinions; for
opinion in good myn is but
Knowledge In the Making.
Under these fantastic terrors of sect
and schism [fear of dissent, difference
in viewpoint], we wrong the earnest and
thirst after knowledge and understanding
which God hath stirred up in this city.
“With thinking, we may be beside ourselves
in a sane sense. By a conscious effort of the
mind, we can stand aloof from actions and
their consequences; and all things, good
and bad, go by us like a torrent.
We are not wholly involved in nature….
I only know myself as a human entity
the scene, so to speak, of thoughts and
affection, and am sensible of a certain
double-ness by which I can stand as
remote from myself as
from another." (Thoreau)
Help, Help, I can’t
Oh, that’s so much better.
Make it possible for someone
who doesn’t report directly
to that area to come in and say
the emperor has no clothes.
Andrew S. Grove, the co-founder
of Intel, put it well in 2005 when
he told an interviewer from Fortune,
“When everybody knows that some
thing is so, it means that nobody
In other words, it becomes nearly
impossible to look beyond what I
know and think outside the pox
I’ve built around my self.
Unlike these fortunate few, I don’t
even know I’m boxed. How would
I? It would take something like
immaculate perception even to
conceive of the idea—like Joe
Fish, suddenly aware of wet.
“Huh? What the…”
This so-called “curse of knowledge,”
a phrase used in a 1989 paper in
The Journal of Political Economy,
means that once you’ve become an
expert in a particular subject, it’s
hard to imagine not knowing what
James Joyce called it Luciferous.
My lucid-dreaming I take for real:
my clarity occluding my ignorance;
my attention efficiency covering up
my attention deficit disease.
I depend on the kindness of colleagues
and English Majors to improve my terms
and images: me, screwed up tight & locked
into my biases & belief systems, prejudices
& convictions, habits and habitats of
humania — my eco-lodgings;
or what’s a college
This is what-it-is:
what it’s like
to be an