En voyage

The planes that go from Houston to Cincinnatti are of the regional kind, which seems incongruous since the trajectory implies such a great change between cultural worlds. Cincinnatti has a German Bank and a lovely nineteenth century train station called the Dixie Terminal.

I went to Houston to go to Cincinnatti. Originally I was to have gone earlier and do interesting things in Houston, but as it was I left almost at the last minute because being in Maringouin for three days since my return from Chicago, I had become too depressed to gather the energy to leave. In fact, I almost cancelled the Cincinnatti voyage. Yet as soon as I crossed the state line into Texas I became my other self again.

The problem is not us, it is Maringouin and our experience there. We must be there, and being there is so weakening that we find ourselves unable to depart. The culture of the region is like this—most people are too weakened by it to depart—but only some of us are inconformes with this situation.

For academics, part of the Vichy State experience is telling ourselves we should like it. There are much worse places, at least technically speaking, and we know very well we should be pleased. And if we are not, it is only proof what we are “not serious” and do not deserve work, anyway.

There is of course my older colleague in another department, Professor and Chair, who said: “Here is so crappy, it is a wonder anyone stays.” My other colleague, younger than I am, has the clarity I still had at his age and says what I did then—precisely because we are serious and also talented, we do not like it here.

Once again I conclude that professors who think we are in the greatest profession in the world, and who say that those who are not willing to put up with just anything to stay in it, are “not good” and “not serious,” are speaking for themselves.

It is not we, but they who are not good and not serious, and they resign themselves therefore to putting up with just anything. I have to come up with a better way of withstanding Maringouin in June and next year than I ever have before.

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