Here we are, somewhere, staggering along in days where words are used to mislead, obfuscate, gaslight.
Dr. George Bleasby, my distinguished in every good way novels professor — he would return a paper if he sniffed that we had used even one secondary source. “If you go to the library, look only at original sources. I want your paper to be about you and the novel. The novel is a sacred text.”
Dr. Bleasby would enter the class with only the current novel in his hands. He was so calm, so respectful of each of us. My papers were awful. “Your C doesn’t reflect your mind, but I know that you are afraid. You’ll find your mind. You will.”
Near the end of the spring semester, we were to have read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times. Dr. Bleasby always began class with a topic for us to talk about. He offered one. No takers. He offered another. Again, no takers. After none of us responded to the third topic, he stood, slowly, and ever so gently said, “I shall return when you have learned to respect Mr. Dickens,” and he walked out.
This is for, not “George,” but for a man I would still to this day address as Dr. Bleasby. He was with me during every class I taught…
The Night before the MLA, Casey Stengel Appears to the Post-Modernist Theorists
“You ever take a pitch when the count’s 3-1?
Slide home on a single to right? One time
the wind in Chicago threw my boys off.
Whitey was furious when I pulled him
with two out in the sixth, but you have to know
when to bring in your heat.” The theorists open
their titanium brief cases, grab their Pilot pens
and spiral notebooks. This is the deconstruction
they’ve been waiting for. Casey waits, then
starts back up. “One Wednesday, a week after
my stomach quit achin’, I told the boys, ‘We
gotta shine our spikes and button our shirts.’
Mick and Moose said, ‘Sure.’ But Billy
over-slid second. The bleachers were empty.
Tells ya somethin’.” The theorists are dazed.
They ask him to explicate. “Sure, I’ll explicate.
It’s all about the home field advantage. Unless
Conlin was behind the plate. Then you might as well
go to a movie. If it’s a night game, well now, that’s
not the same, it’s different. There’s a difference.
Right, Yogi? Next year. Next year. Not last. Gotta
go, boys.” The theorists say, “Thank you, Casey,”
shake his hand, have him sign their books, high-five
one another, and retreat to their hotel. They order
room service, change their panel to “Signs Don’t
Have to Signify: Words, Ontology, and the Void
between Pitches.” The Q & A lasts two hours.
First published in Waymark, Voices of the Valley magazine.
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