Dr. J is graduating this weekend and I cannot be there, as the Shill is going to be in town.
So, if there is a round of toasting her greatness, I will not be able to participate. Which is too bad, because I could go on for a long time about how great she is. Shoot, I could go on for a long time just trying to make my way through all her various degrees.
So, I thought I would just publicly decree my love for Dr. J right here, right now.
J., you have it. You totally do. You’re one of the smartest people I know, but you never retreat into your intellect as a way of hiding from the world. You don’t make fortresses of big words in order to keep your ivory towers safe; you force words to be bridges between people, you use them as tools for sharing ideas. Your scholarship has always been brilliant but open and available to anyone who took the time with it. You put into practice every day the idea that education is for everyone and that our cultural heritage should be accessible and understandable to everyone, even as you question what that heritage is and whether it’s inclusive of all the amazing stories we have to tell.
You are the least snobby person I have every met, especially in that way. Your students are very lucky.
I am inspired every day by the ways you live with poetry, like some folks live with a well tended garden or a wallet full of pictures of their kids. For you, poetry is an everyday source of beauty and meaning. You live with it in your heart and I think that’s a brave and pleasant way to live.
I also am in awe of your love of beauty and transcendence. For you, it never has been about finding the right analytical or theoretical tool in order to nail down your subject and open it up and pick at its parts and kill it, dead, dead, dead. It’s been about enjoying and living in and among and with the things you write about.
I know this next little bit is going to suck so hard–especially the job part. There are so many good scholars out there and all competing for so few jobs. My fingers are crossed for you.
But my fingers are also crossed for that profession we love and hate. When I see you, I see the antidote for so many of the problems of the discipline and I really worry that we’d rather die doing things the way we always have than go through the painful rebirth that scholars like you represent.
Anyway, there’s a time and place for worrying about that. This is not it.
Instead, I’ll just say that I love you and am so proud of you and am every day honored and lucky to be your friend.
Don’t trip and don’t start cooking anything before the ceremony you don’t want to wear to the ceremony.