Saturday, April 16, 2005

The present intrudes on the world of the novel

I plan on posting more of chapter 4 next week, but the present day continues to re-create echoes from Beyond You & Me. In the interim, though, on April 20th the United Auto Workers plans a solidarity march at Columbia University in support of a planned strike starting on April 18th of teaching and research assistants. When was the last time you heard someone in the U.S. use the words "solidarity march"? And here I thought Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard, was going to be all the news on the academic front this season?

Anyone visited "The Invisible Adjunct"? She's just one of thousands of indentured faculty (oops, I meant "non-tenured servants") who demonstrate the bad faith of the academy (not on the streets, but in their actions). In the novel, Cassie's husband is one of the teaching assistants, without whom Yale would not hum. It's workers whose benefits are tied to their education (frequently with hefty loans and billing practices that no state attorney general would let pass if they knew about them) that make the Ivy League great.

So is this book ancient history (as one agen claimed), or timely? It's certainly a timeless story, because temptation happens to almost everyone. Are women better off today than in 1975 when the novel takes place? Do great institutions still dissemble when it comes to their internal needs? Is truth no more fixed than de Man said it was? You be the judge.

And thanks to the trolls! Internet anonymity brings out the best in some folks.