An open letter to William P. Leary, SJ, president of Boston College.
DEAR Father Leahy:
I am writing to resign in advance from any adjunct professor position you may offer me. Granted, the likelihood of you singling out some random guy with a bachelor’s degree (and an atheist in San Francisco, to boot!) for such a treasured sinecure is slim to none. But as we both know, the gray areas of the universe have escaped my attention. Egos must be massaged accordingly. I share Steve Almond’s vision that we live in a living cartoon of pleasures where candy bars and amateurish tales about sex offer us the only solaces. I hope with this foolish epistle that I might effect a certain Tex Avery/Chuck Jones feel into academia, or perhaps have you contemplating the same.
The inspiration comes from Steve Almond, who clearly feels the need to be lionized, adored, fellated, inter alia, for a “brave” stance that would have been more courageous to address to you in private. But then, as we both know, open letters are less about integrity and more about pissing territory. While I do not share Almond’s constant need for publicity, I do share, to a very minute degree, his uncanny tendency for self-immolation and recurrent public embarassment. Hence, this public letter. I too oppose Dr. Condoleezza Rice as a commencement speaker. But irrespective of my politics, I oppose most commencement speakers, seeing as how they are, on the whole, pompous windbags.
I should note, notwithstanding the broad sweeps in my crude worldview, that I do maintain a more enlightened view than Almond’s. I came to the conclusion that most, if not all, politicians were liars many years ago. I am also quite cynical about this whole honorary degree business. No less a blackguard than Jerry Falwell has three honorary degrees and yet still people afford him the dubious prenominate of “doctor.”
Thus, the honor afforded to Dr. Condoleezza Rice is blasphemous, but it fits in with the grand American tradition of academic duplicity. A petty ripple across the pond (such as this and Almond’s letter) will do nothing to abate it. But it will allow me to flex my own ego and pursue heretofore unoccupied areas of hubris in the name of “courage.” That’s what open letters are all about, Bill. (Can I call you Bill?) Not only have I resigned from the position, but I haven’t even been offered it! Take that, Bill!
I’ve come to realize that I’m more important to you. I eat better than you. I sleep better than you. I have illicit relations better than you. And I have formed all these opinions on flimsy pretext without even meeting you. I expect you to rescind what is no doubt a political move on your part for me, an insignificant stranger. Do this and I will seriously consider accepting any position you might offer me. Of course, since this letter is now public, I realize that diplomacy is now an afterthought. But this is my blossoming ego, Bill.
I would like to apologize to any prospective students. I would also urge them to investigate the words and actions of Steve Almond, and to consider that their collective sum may be more solipsistic than constructive in intent.
Edward Champion is a writer, but, more importantly, nobody in particular.