Monday, October 25, 2010

Fame is fleeting, babe!

Some dialogue following an attempted witticism during today’s Aristotle lecture:

Student 1: You make such obscure references!

Feser: Sorry. Guess I’m the Dennis Miller of philosophy.

Student 2: Who’s Dennis Miller?

Feser: See what I mean?


  1. Spiro Agnew once referred to Charles Goodell as the "Christine Jorgensen of the Republican Party." I wonder how many kids today know who Senator Goodell, Christine Jorgenson, or even Vice President Spiro Agnew were.

  2. Spiro Agnew, probably. "That headless body that carries Nixon's head around on Futurama."

  3. And by awesome, I mean both very humorous and also very illuminating. Consider: if even a fraction of your teaching time is given to educating the "yutes" on who Dennis Miller is, how much of your life must be dedicated to teaching a horde of such, ahem, n00bs to who Aquinas, et al. are? It's a sign of just how culturally anemic we have become that even pop culture is out of date within a decade. ("Oh, you mean that weird guy who used to commentate for the NFL.") What hope have we for figures a millennium ago and earlier? I recommend Gilson's essay on teaching if this kind of zombified student drags you down. And I mean zombified with all due respect.

  4. Hello all,

    Just to be clear, it was NOT my intent to criticize the student for not knowing who Dennis Miller is. I hardly think that's a big deal. I just thought the exchange was funny.

    As George Will would say, we shouldn't take every andecdote as a license to commit sociology. Or, to paraprhase Mark Twain, "Persons attempting to find a motive in this blog post will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."


  5. ROFL!

    (But what's ROFL? Ouroboros, call your office.)

    ((What's Ouroboros?))

  6. What was the original witticism?

  7. Fair enough. But who's Will George? And who is Edward Fester?

    I didn't think you were insulting or mocking the student. It did just strike me as… sigh-making. heh

  8. I'm interested in knowing the source of a Gilson essay on teaching. In my department, we pondered having a movie viewing in the beginning of the semester to make sense of subsequent allusions...

  9. Matt:

    Find A Gilson Reader, Image Press, ed. Anton Pegis. Gilson's got a winsome essay in there on teaching. He certainly had enough experience!