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1. i remain dissatisfied, old, and broke. i have been sucked half into the Arbeitsamt maw, teaching classes of unemployed losers Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon. It’s good money, in that they can’t cancel, unlike companies & one-on-ones. However, while i need the money i feel like Boba Fett being dragged into the desert anus of death (that’s a popular culture reference). After just over five and a half years of teaching, i sometimes feel like i’m dreaming the whole thing: it’s sometimes horrible, sometimes fun, but doesn’t feel real anymore, as if my fate branched off into another job and for some reason i’m still physically in McLingua, outside of fate and meaning.
In truth, it’s not really horrible anymore, because i refuse to teach horrible groups now, and i find myself laughing merrily at things that would once have filled me with rage, like the Arbeitsamt students who have no idea what page we’re on, even when i write the number on the board, jabbing my finger at it and intoning the number two or three times. These classes are a peculiar beast: the intelligent students are usually frustrated and bitter, and the rest are stupid and listless.
2. i try to hold to the notion that this grisly ordeal may be good for my character, even if it does little for my finances or happiness. As Gandalf said “it gives patience to listen to error without anger”, and i must endure a great many errors: mere language errors do not greatly vex me, as English time tenses & prepositions are difficult for the German; but gross stupidity and inattention and daily Krautishness get me down.
i don’t dislike my stupid students. If anything, i find no correlation between intelligence and likeableness. It probably is, in some perverted & filthy way, good for me to have to get on with stupid people, as it requires me to focus on what we have in common – which is just our common humanity, nothing more. Intelligence turns poisonous when not thoroughly rooted in a substratum of ordinariness. This is, i think, part of the power of John Williams’ character William Stoner – an academic without the usual vices of the academic; he has a farmer’s simplicity, a lack of intellectual pretension & neuroses (in contrast to the two typically deformed academics, Walker & Lomax, who set out to destroy him). He doesn’t even seem particularly intelligent; i could perhaps say that intellectualism is the show of apparent intelligence, which can be real but can also be simply a chameleon-like mimicry. i often meet people – colleagues – who seem intelligent, but then go on to say stupid things, and over time i realise they simply parrot popular journalists and can’t defend their views (if they even are “their” views), don’t read anything, drink themselves stupid every weekend & evening, but have “the manner” of intelligence.
Most of my fellow undergrads at university were so – bright and grinning, they had all got A grades at school, then came to university and generally found it was a lot harder, that you actually had to work, and that summarising a lecture and perhaps a hastily-skimread chapter, was not enough to get the highest marks. Not that it made any real difference – these people all probably earn a great deal more than me now, and had no problems at all getting whatever jobs they wanted. Indeed, the great masquerade of intellectualism is no doubt to be preferred to real intelligence; intelligence tends to be harder to apprehend and acknowledge; intellectualism is merely a kind of mimicry, a way of nodding seriously, with a frown, wearing the right clothes, and saying things like “but isn’t that part of the post-modern hermeneutic?”; it requires very little or perhaps no real intelligence, merely an instinct for imitation and go-getting. Much of what passes for intelligence is posturing and mimicry. It would be amusing to see if a regular dolt could be schooled in this masquerade, and if our modern spiritual cripples would notice.
3. In general, i would prefer the company of my Arbeitsamt idiots to fashionable academics. The former have a limited range of thought & discourse, but it’s solid & unpretentious; and even their ignorance can be amusing – so, we had the following conversation last week:
Big Daddy Bernd: I am drink the Glenfiddich on evening.
Nico: Was? Was ist Glenfiddich?
me: It’s whisky.
me: It’s Gaelic.
Nico: Was? Gay?
me: It’s a language.
Extremely Hot Iranian girl [in German]: Really? There is a language for gays?
Another time, when they started giving me aggro about English grammar being hard and making no sense, i used a well-worn example of the hellishness of German, that Brust (man’s chest) is die Brust (feminine) but Busen (bosom, tits) is der Busen (masculine) and to illustrate my point held my hands out to massage the air a couple of feet from a fairly sexy slinky Russian MILF’s bosom, while intoning “der Busen”. And i could get away with it because, like Gary Oldman’s cop in Leon, i was just doing my job. i suppose i could have ripped her clothes off and groped her breasts as long as i kept repeating, der Busen, but i didn’t think of that at the time.
Such is life, one long splendour of missed opportunities and inadvertent sex crimes.