17 August 2006

Anerkennung und Bekräftigung

In surfing the internet to find consolation as I sift through the debris of my academic career, I have come across numerous columns by a midwestern humanities professor who goes by the name 'Thomas Hart Benton,' presumably in some kind of allusion to the eponymous artist. Imagine my surprise when I received a reply from this gentleman. (Trust me, nowadays the pairing of 'gentleman' and 'scholar' is highly problematic.) In response to my cri de coeur for my thwarted dreams, he most sagely replied:

Thank you for writing about my Chronicle columns. I am glad they were helpful to you, or, at least, they helped to affirm your sense of being enmeshed in a system with contradictory motives. I can't offer any advice about your particular situation, except to say that you've probably come to the correct conclusions. I don't think leaving is an obvious mistake, though you probably should burn any bridges.

Hmmm. Did he mean 'should not burn any bridges', or was that a Freudian slip evincing a conviction held even more deeply than he already believes?!