July 5, 2011

"I’ve been going to graduations, and there isn’t much that I find more pretentious or irksome..."

"... than the sight of ‘faculty’ and graduates in their academic get-ups..."

55 comments:

Triangle Man said...

So Salinger was cranky about that too? Go figure.

Lincolntf said...

Whenevger I see my wife's "regalia" hanging on the door I know she's gonna be in a bad mood that day.

KenK said...

Screw him the cranky old bastard. Why's he get vote on what they wear? Still yet another example that just because you're smart, talented or famous doesn't make you a good person. Just a smart talented or famous person with flaws, prejudices, and who may be an a asshole at times.

traditionalguy said...

It is robes from the Church traditions that founded the schools. Think of it as ethnic folk costumes...like tuxedos.

And they cost about a thousand dollars.

That little bit of pomp and circumstance is all the student can give back to his parents for their 5 years of continuous support.

galdosiana said...

Haha, figures Salinger would gripe about that.

At graduation in May, I rather enjoyed seeing all the profs in their differently-colored robes. The best one was all fluorescent pink. Second place went to the bumblebee robes--gold with black stripes.

ricpic said...

People think that Salinger was a superior "sensitive" because the world was a horror show to him. The world is a horror show to the average Joe, too. The difference is that the average Joe doesn't take the coward's way out by becoming a recluse.

WoW Lawbringer said...

I also rather enjoy the faculty regalia, particularly because the Harvard and Yale gowns are so ludicrously tacky. It sends a message that all new graduates need to know ...

"While yes, you have borrowed six figures to become a college graduate, we Ivy league alumni are still more special than you. See us strut like fat balding peacocks in our pimpin' robes!"

WV: tophinkr. Our Harvard/Oxford/Yale alumni Con Law professor would be known as our tophinkr if he wasn't Kris Kobach.

Maggie said...

I got to wear my robes more than 30 years ago. They were hired. I wore them once and they were given back!!

Some people just do not understand the meaning of the dignity of attaining the qualification.

Carol_Herman said...

Salinger typed well!

And, ya know? He could'a said the same thing about weddings. Pompous grandeur and all. Plus, you hire a wedding photographer. And, the groom is responsible for the champagne. And, the flowers.

I think we have the graduation ceremony to reflect back on more civilized times. When just to read and write was a privilege.

And, if you could afford college, you were a man of liesure. Plus, you weren't ready for marriage!

Truth is Salinger was an old curmudgeon. Mark Twain, was one, probably, too. But Mark Twain still makes me laugh more.

I put Salinger aside a long time ago. But not after reading his stuff about the Glass family. And, the mom who never put on a dress. But ran around her Manhattan apartment wearing a smock. She carried the world in her smock pockets. There wasn't anything in there that couldn't cure what ailed ya.

Why did I read "Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenter?"

somefeller said...

At least he didn't call them phonies. Or maybe he did in the parts that weren't excerpted.

Phil 3:14 said...

What a "Catcher in the Rye" related post and no one has used the word "phoney" yet?

Phil 3:14 said...

somefeller just beat me to it.

Damn!!

Donald Douglas said...

Ann, I linked you at the Blogger commmnter post below, but I'm dropping my link up here where things are current. You might find this interesting: 'Google to Retire Blogger!'

Old Dad said...

If the old fart hated graduations, why the hell did he go to so many? He'd been posing as a Jacobin way too, long--phoney.

Of course, the irony card could be played--Holden at 90 would be funny as hell.

Carol_Herman said...

Old dad, the answer is easy.

Speakers at graduations are paid a minimum of $10,000. The ones that get audiences to laugh are paid more.

Carol_Herman said...

Halden Caulfield at 90? How about Harry Potter at 50?

When the last chapter ends ... Rowling aged Potter to about 40. And, he was sending off his own sons to Hogwarts.

Will this be true, ahead?

Will legacy enrollments still prevail at harvahd? Or has the label fallen off harvahd, like our Presidential Seal, on Obama's limousine?

edutcher said...

I was graduated from high school in a suit.

For both degrees (poli sci and computer science), I had to wear the "academic get-up".

I felt more like an adult in the suit.

Don't agree much with Salinger, but he was right about this.

Particularly, the irksome thing.

Lincolntf said...

Whenevger I see my wife's "regalia" hanging on the door I know she's gonna be in a bad mood that day.

You're not Meade's secret identity, are you?

Triangle Man said...

Perhaps the faculty have a more highly developed appreciation for absurdity than Salinger.

MadisonMan said...

And they cost about a thousand dollars.

I just wore my Grandfather's, as his son (My Dad) had. It has an inside pocket for a flask. It's somewhere, still, at my parents' house in case a kid wants to go the full academic on me.

bagoh20 said...

"a composition Mozart wrote at 5"

What a freak of awesomeness!

Trooper York said...

Salinger has to tell it to Lucifer.

Bob_R said...

Graduations are pretty darned successful community rituals. They are immensely popular and seem to do a pretty reasonable job providing a sense of closure, celebration, and connection to a larger tradition. (Sure the connection is pretty loose, but it doesn't seem such an unjustified pretense.) The only real problem with the robes is that they were invented for a much colder climate than SW VA.

I don't believe I've paid attention to anything Salinger said since I read Catcher in HS.

bagoh20 said...

I graduated in a gold robe accented with sneakers dyed fluorescent green.

I was making a deep statement to my classmates. Something along the lines of: "Time to party!"

Although I actually loved going to school, graduation was one of the happiest events of my life. I remember a bunch of us walking the mile through the woods from the school singing Alice Cooper's "Schools Out".

It was one of those rare points in life when the feelings of accomplishment, freedom, and transition come together and just rush over you like a cool shower.

I first felt it at 15, after completing a brutal summer as a migrant farm worker picking tobacco in Connecticut. Getting home was an epic rush of relief. 3 months of work earned me $300, but it was the most I ever had and it was mine. I slept for nearly 24 hr straight.

I felt it again at the beginning of this year when I risked everything financially in order to transition from employee to business owner. I can wear green sneakers to work now if I want - glorious!

tl;dr

Big Mike said...

I don't mind the robes and mortar boards at all.

Now "Pomp and Circumstances" on the other hand ...

Big Mike said...

So Salinger didn't like tulips? He should be glad he never got to see the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands, then.

WV: yuklist - a list of things, like academic robes and tulips, that make you go "yuk."

WoW Lawbringer said...

After watching http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgruNJP0Rrc I just think of graduates marching two by two into Noah's Ark.

Big Mike said...

@bagoh, good for you!

Andy said...

I saw this at the high school level this year in a upper crust Columbus OH suburb. Pretentious robes for faculty with colors representing each's alma mater college. Eyeroll.

m stone said...

migrant farm worker picking tobacco in Connecticut???

Sounds suspicious

gadfly said...

Gosh -- when I saw "Catcher in the Rye," I began to read hoping to get the obscene and the sexual passages and the inappropriate language. Of course the banned book fiasco was deliberately designed to sell books when we didn't have Kindle.

pm317 said...

This is exactly how I felt about wearing that stupid gown and hat. I have two Masters and a Doctorate, all from fairly well known schools and never went to any of my graduation ceremonies.

rcocean said...

Does anyone under 45 give a crap about J.D. Salinger?

Will the Boomer death-grip on our cultural throat ever end?

Fred4Pres said...

Come on Ann, give us a picture of you dressed like a gentleman from Verona. You have to wear those floppy hats and robes for graduation, no?

The Crack Emcee said...

Salinger was the ultimate NewAge nutjob. A perfect representative for the generation that followed him.

I'm not the type for wanting to burn books but he tests me.

Fred4Pres said...

J.D. Salinger was a hell of a writer.

Howard Hughes was a hell of an aviator and captain of industry.

But they both died batty, alone and miserable.

rcocean said...

I also read J.D. Salinger liked sunsets, walks on the beach and his hamburger's medium-rare.

He was fascinating.

BEK477 said...

Mao suits for the lot of them. Little red Books and mao caps with stars colored in their discipline's appropriate color standard.

When will this ancient medieval guild ceremony end? Powdered wigs are gone. Merkins and hoop skirts are no more.

Let us ditch the quasi-medieval drag in the university and in the US court systems. No more Gothic architecture or medieval music in our ceremonial life.

Ralph L said...

What an ungrateful shit. If it weren't for "faculty", no one would have heard of Salinger.

Connecticutt was a tobacco-growing state until a few decades ago. It's relatively labor-intensive, so unsurprising they'd import cheap workers.

I used my plain black robe in a Halloween costume. Turned a black suit bag inside out and put that on over a wide-brimmed hat. Black gloves and Deely-bopper eyes and voila!

bagoh20 said...

"migrant farm worker picking tobacco in Connecticut???"

I know, but it was real. I don't know how it's done now, but in the early 70's the tobacco companies that grew Connecticut cigar wrapper leaf, would advertise for workers in my home town in PA. You applied and if you were hired, they would bus us 500 miles to the fields where we lived in barracks like a summer camp, but without the fun.

It was a 3 month contract. The pay was $1.35/hr and they took out $0.60/hr for room and board. We worked the fields, rain or shine, along side Puerto Rican immigrants that scared the shit out of us. We were treated pretty poorly and worked hard, but not abused, and were considered second class to the immigrants who knew the trade. Any kid that complained was sent home, and most of us didn't want that. The ones who stuck it out did so just out of peer pressure.

It was a learning experience, but I would not recommend it.

bagoh20 said...

The internet is an amazing resource. I did a little search and for anybody interested in the obscure lost trade of tobacco picking in Connecticut, here is a link to an accurate description by a guy who did it in the 1980's near the end of the practice.

Pretty much just like I remember it.

http://www.cigarlife.com/stories/tobaccodays.htm

Pogo said...

It's a good bet that JD Salinger hated pretty much everything and everyone.

His opinions, like most of his writings, will soon fade into nothing. TCITR itself will lose it's stranglehold on adolescent angst. He will become a footnote, where most of us disappear completely.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier was a far better tale.

ironrailsironweights said...

Connecticut's shade-grown tobacco industry has largely but not completely disappeared. Some of the remaining fields are visible in the center of this photo, and if you switch to Street View on Kennedy Road you can see the shade tents in place.

Peter

Fred4Pres said...

bagoh20, thanks for that history lesson. I was too young to work those fields, but I remember hearing about Connecticut tobacco and thinking it seemed rather strange and it mostly ended just a bit more than a generation ago.

Salinger had a gift in his writing, but he was a complete bugger towards the end. Hell, he was nuts at his peak.

bagoh20 said...

Am I the only one who never read Catcher? I have it, but I never read much of it. In high school, I was always buried in non-fiction science and technology stuff. The only fiction I read was album covers. I wish I had read more fiction, but then as now, I only have time for the real world, which is strange enough.

Should I bother to read Catcher now? Salinger seemed like a bit of a whack job, and I need to respect an author to read him.

Ralph L said...

It used to be required reading in 99.44% of the high schools in America. I didn't find the story appealling then, can't imagine it would improve with my age.

Conserve Liberty said...

Just jotting some notes here:

@LincolnRtf: My wife was the Marshall for her college this year. She said the damned staff was heavy. I think I'm finally out of the woods about now.

My daughter re-read Catcher on the plane from Dublin returning from a semester at Trinity College. She said she had had enough dour Irish literature and needed some crusty American to re-assimilate.

WineSlob said...

Caulfield in "Catcher in the Rye"
Is a Phony, All-Awry Gadfly
But Academia's Pretense
Is Much More Intense
Living that Delta Chi, Sigma Phi Lie.

MikeinAppalachia said...

rcocean-
The answer to both of your questions is "No".

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Of course, in the right, Mr. Salinger was in effect saying "as Me, I shouldn't attend graduations, as my attendance creates the appeareance of pretention and irksomeness, that many find repulsive.....

But since I was curious......."

Lucius Septimius said...

I love my regalia, but it's appropriate to my field of study and I look absolutely fabulous in it.

Lucius Septimius said...

Reading about Salinger's letters reminds me of the "William James" collection at a place I use to work. It was a single piece of paper from Harvard on which he had written "please close widow before locking door."

Paco Wové said...

I never purchased the regalia appropriate for my Ph.D. -- aside from the cost, which was well beyond what an impoverished and barely-employed graduate student could afford, the damned thing was just ugly. A dingy gold robe with electric-blue hashes on the sleeves. Ick.

(The Music school Ph.D.'s had it worse -- dingy gold with pink hashes.)

Now I'm out of academia entirely, and it's all moot.

LarsPorsena said...

Why bother with the ceremony at all?
Just have the school mail the diploma and transcripts. That way you don't have to wear the garb AND not listen to hours of boring speeches.

Lucius Septimius said...

Lars Porsena said: Why bother with the ceremony at all?
Just have the school mail the diploma and transcripts. That way you don't have to wear the garb AND not listen to hours of boring speeches.


Ahhhhh ... but I'm almost perpetually on the platform party and get to make boring speeches and I demand an audience, dammit!

MadisonMan said...

Why bother with the ceremony at all?

It made my parents happy to see it.