Culture Clash

Forever Thirteen

February 12, 2014

Butler Library, Columbia University

Oh, help. It seems that at Columbia University a rat pack of nursery feminists have got their skivvies in a knot because the library, Butler, is named for an, ugh!, man. Yes. It cannot be denied. In protest, these girls, apparently having nothing more important to do, have filmed “€œfeminist pornography”€ in the library. A scandal arose. What feminist porn might be is not clear. Since feminism has more dykes than the Zuiderzee, presumably they will show it to each other.

Anyway, one of these drab libertines, a Sara Grace Powell, says, “€œButler is an extremely charged space”€”the names emblazoned on the stone facade are, for me, a stimulant for resistance.”€

A stimulant to grow up might be more to the point. She means “€œstimulus,”€ of course, but why would a child at an Ivy university be expected to know English?

What droning boilerplate. If her thoughts were any shallower I would suspect her brainpan of being a cookie sheet. It is a case of Darwinian reversal. We regress to cephalopody.

“€œHow did our universities and graduate schools turn into intellectual litter boxes?”€

To an extent I have to sympathize with Sara. I grant that seeing a horrible male name “€œemblazoned”€ (the pretentious verbiage of a high-school newspaper) would send me into a decline also. Wouldn”€™t it you? Never mind that if the man thus emblazoned had not made the money to donate the library, Sara wouldn”€™t have one in which to make pornography, presumably the purpose of libraries. Nor, if it weren”€™t for men, would she have anything to study except, I suppose, her fascinating angsts. (I will guess without evidence that her presence at a pricey finishing school like Columbia depends on a parasitic relationship to her father’s bank account.)

The adage that children should be seen and not heard gets half of it right.

More from Miss Powell, again writing with more Sara than Grace:

I work in Butler but sometimes feel suffocated by it….The point was to transgress the relative conservatism (and its history) of the space with this hysterical intervention.

What godawful pedestrian self-important prose. Couldn”€™t she, you know, like, go do her homework or something? If I had in my beginnings written that mysteriously or badly, I would not have been permitted on the obit desk. Perhaps she means “€œhistrionic,”€ or merely that the participants are hysterics, which hardly needs emphasis. With Sara Grace, one is never sure.

The silly self-admiring solemnity of it all! I”€™m not sure whether to be amused or annoyed. Hers is dishwater academese of the hormonally unfinished that says “€look at me I”€™m all grown up really, really, see the really neat words I use.”€ It is the language of a federal report improved by narcissism.

One expects pubescent behavior from the pubescent. Yet this pseudo-literate pretentiousness is standard at hundreds of Women’s Studies departments everywhere: priggish, self-righteous, moralizing. But aren”€™t universities places where teenagers grow up instead of avoiding doing so? (No.) Today in America adulthood seems to flow upward like sap in a tree, reaching the genitals at age twelve or so, and the head at twenty-eight. We approach perpetual juvenility.

One expects middle-school behavior in middle school. One expects students in high school infallibly to know everything about everything, to be sure how to correct an erring world that has puzzled adults for at least several thousand years. But shouldn”€™t they get over it? How did our universities and graduate schools turn into intellectual litter boxes?

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