To our Catholic Great Gatsbys

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Rob Sherron, Contributing Writer

The University of Dallas is a very fractured community. Though most strict “cliques” tend to suffer a painful death by sophomore year, harsh divisions still exist within each class. The Fromer/Spromer divide has been documented extensively (though further research needs to be performed on the junior-year FroSpro swap). We all bore witness to the longskirt/leggings divide earlier this semester. Then, of course, there are the couples, who get to go on double dates to drive-in theaters, play bridge and compare engagement rings, who separate themselves from their homely single friends, who instead get to brood, write emo poetry and spend their just-in-case-ring-by-spring Zales deposits on things that really matter, like books and alcohol. The kids, of course, have their Gregory-Madonna rivalry.

I believe I have discovered a subtler fracture in our community, and I hope that by sharing my findings thus far you might come to a better understanding of yourself and of your role in this strange place.

We all know the classic class distinction between new money and old money (noblesse de robe/d’epee might be closer). The split I’ve discovered is analogous to this divide, but in regard to childhood education. My working title for this distinction is new intellect and old intellect.

The latter is commonly associated with the longskirt, or longskirtish-leaning person. They do not simply regularly quote Chesterton and Lewis—they have been breathing the stuff since they were four. Their childhoods consisted of the following: a little Greek, a little Latin, the Summa, a lot of Newman, Fulton Sheen reruns, the Confessions, the collected works of every major 20th-century Catholic novelist (for the record: Tolkien, Lewis [according to them, he counts], Waugh, Greene, Percy, O’Connor and Porter), the collected works of P.G. Wodehouse, The Prisoner, Fawlty Towers, the 1960s version of Doctor Who (if they’ve come from a broad-minded household), the Jeremy Irons/ Anthony Andrews version of Brideshead Revisited (when the kids had grown a bit) and every surviving cinematic reel featuring Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart. A quick shortcut to figuring out if a work is in the old intellect’s cornucopia is to ask, “Would Dr. Hanssen reference this in class?”

The man of the new intellect is akin to the middle-class gentleman who gets into Oxford and desperately tries putting on a pile of airs deep enough to conceal his nature from the royalty with whom he is hobnobbing. He desperately grabs at these cultural tidbits in the hope that he will be able to blend in. It’s fun at first—every tidbit noted above is kind of wonderful—but soon, as he realizes the depth of his ignorance, the experience becomes frantic.

My advice to the Catholic Gatsbys in our readership: Stop. Slow down. Breathe. Your old-intellect pals have had 20 years to get through this material. You have had four. Yes, you could do Hopkins for Junior Poet and Brideshead for Senior Novel, but it won’t be enough. It’s never enough. You will think you have finally achieved total cultural immersion, and then a statement of the following kind will strike you to the core: “You mean you haven’t read Waugh in Abyssinia?!”

You will never be one of the ChesterGentry. Accept your humbler lot in life, pick up a Jeeves omnibus at Half Price Books and relax. College is not for filling in the educational gaps of your childhood. No, that is what having your own children is for.

 

27 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure exactly what Mr. Sherron’s point is? It seems like he is trying to provide a thought provoking argument about something, yet the only thoughts being provoked are these: “What just happened?” and “Who exactly is he mad at?” or “Do you understand what he’s saying?”, “What is this guy’s problem?” “Is he high?”

    • Not mad, not high, no real point. Daniel Orazio and I have been jokingly talking about how some of our friends seem to have had a crazily intense intellectual upbringing, and about how people like me have failed to catch up to them when in college. He asked me to turn it into a humorous/vaguely satirical article. It wasn’t meant to be serious at all, but to be a series of ridiculously laughable statements.

      • Rob, your article was great! Please keep writing! Don’t let the bullies get you down. Ambrose, you are coming off extremely arrogantly and I’m tempted to send this link to your mother.

        • I don’t think these guys are bullies. They’re passionate UD students trying to stand up for what is right. They just misread the article and the sentiment they are angry about is one that has nothing to do with me or the newspaper staff.

          Thank you though!

  2. Mr. Sherron…What is the point of this article? Are you trying to make yourself feel better because you know all these notable authors and all their famous works? Just because everyone at this University doesn’t spend time with EVERYONE does not mean there is a rift at UD. You may not know this, but your pretentious attitude in this article is sad. Maybe I misread your article…but at a first glance I don’t appreciate it.

    • The article ends with me recounting an instance where I *thought* I knew all these people and their famous works, but was served a piece of humble pie by not *actually* having read all their works. I thought that would have been enough of an indication to the readers that I was most definitely *not* placing myself up on a pedestal. I overestimated the clarity of that ending.

  3. “My advice to the Catholic Gatsbys” should have been rewritten as “My advice to my *fellow* Catholic Gatsbys” to make the POV of the article clearer. This was a lighthearded self-satirical piece about my own failed attempts to rise above my stature, to seek the Green Light of being able to quote Chesterton appropriately in any given situation, while also poking fun at my friends who did have the kind of childhood described. I do not include myself as a member of “the Old Intellect” at all.

    • Maybe this article “sailed over people’s heads” (as you put on facebook) because you clearly did Not include yourself into your “New-Intellect” group. One example can be seen at the end when you tell the N.I.’s to “Stop. Slow down. Breathe.” you should have said “OUR (not your) old-intellect pals have had 20 years to get through this material”. There are countless points where you had the opportunity to subtly include yourself in this group, but did not. Maybe this is why people took offense when reading your article. Just a heads up for next time, big guy. If you plan on telling a group of individuals that they will have a “humbler lot in life” make sure you clearly include yourself in the group.

      • Agreed that I should have made it he POV clearer. This is something I say in the comment you are replying to. Disagree that I explicitly identify myself with that group. The entire thing is from an outside looking in, look I’ve made a discovery framework. In the list of things Oldies like, i explicitly say “THEY have been breathing the stuff…THEIR childhoods…THEY think CS Lewis counts.” Anything else is something you’ve placed on the text.

        Also, even if I did write it as a member of the Oldies (which, again, I certainly did not) from the start it is clear that this article is not serious. I claim the only thing dating people do is play bridge and the only thing single people do is write emo poetry. I claim that doctor who is edgy. I use the word “ChesterGentry”

        If you thought I identified with the Oldies rather than the new, that’s because I didn’t make it clear enough.

        If you thought this was a serious article, you are awful at reading comprehension, and I refuse to write down to you.

  4. Rob,

    You sound extremely pretentious. If you ask me you only further play into this student body narrative by asserting the idea that there are distinct differences on the way certain Catholics were raised. Not every long-skirt falls under your narrative of:
    “Their childhoods consisted of the following: a little Greek, a little Latin, the Summa, a lot of Newman, Fulton Sheen reruns, the Confessions, the collected works of every major 20th-century Catholic novelist…etc”

    Just like not every person outside of that demographic is the opposite of that kind of background. You and your pals seek to divide and conquer the student body by establishing these socio-religious stereotypes amongst the student body, that allow you to pompously to look down upon anyone who does not share your background. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Sherron, you sound like an ignorant, arrogant, ass.

    • Not trying to pompously look down on anyone. This is an article about satirically looking up at people who have had much more intellectual childhoods than I have had. The article ends by poking fun at myself for trying and failing to be more intellectual than I actually am.

    • Perhaps the one who truly sounds like an “ignorant, arrogant, ass” is the one who cannot pick up on obvious satire and furthers his argument through insulting, ad hominem attacks.

      Just to be clear (since there seems to be confusion on the subject) this comment is not satirical. It is aimed at Paul, Matt and Ambrose. Rob wrote an amusing, light-hearted, satirical article. Stop being condescending.

  5. Perhaps everyone should calm down. To quote Mr. Mayor, “Maybe I misread your article,” but it seems pretty clearly to be a self-deprecating satire. Should snarky seniors refrain from writing articles about years-old inside jokes? Perhaps, lest they risk being misunderstood. Does the misunderstanding make the author an ass? There’s more assery in the last paragraph of Paul Carter’s comment than in the article upon which he’s commenting.

    • “Fatty,” are you serious? I don’t quite know what you’re saying! But to try and answer your question I do not think it’s real. The article illuminates a false dichotomy. Even all those who were a part of the “greats and times” as you say, would probably not agree with narrative of this article. It’s quite shallow and petty, and may I humbly remind you “Fatty” you have a say here and now.

      • No! That isn’t a fair one. It’s over and under not through! You’re trying to say “hey stop with all of it,” but I’m saying “hold on here!” When did we all try?

  6. PC and Ambrose, seriously, what’s the deal? Are you guys actually offended or are you just excellent trolls, to paraphrase Rob Sherron. Whatever the case, you’re both coming off pretty badly. It’s obvious that Rob was being facetious, the same cannot be said for you. If you’re going to publicly attack someone, on facebook and on this site, the least you can do is respond to his rebuttal.

    • Self-Satirical to the extent that only my closest friends and I alone understood what I was talking about. I also did not make it clear that I was being satirical, but I actually seemed very pompous, indeed. good day.

      • On the contrary, Me, I made many new pals over this article! Once the jackassish folks started stamping about, people I’ve never spoken to before started approaching me: “Listen. *I* got it. I thought it was *hilarious*. Thank you.”

        All in all, I rate this pal-making experience 5 stars out of 6.2!

  7. Great article Rob; I imagine a lot of the NI crowd (including me) have been looking for support, and can look to your explanation to resolve their anxiety without bitterness.
    If this is satire, it’s beyond me–read it straight.

  8. Pals? You think that you made new friends? I can’t believe that something so unpatriotistically written could have this effect. This article has brought together the whole of the United States all the way from Maxico to California in one great unendingly strong and patriotically good bond of friendship! People who don’t even go to this school are criticizing you!! There’s a guy named fatty who commented on this and I’m pretty sure nobody named Fatty goes to this school. So that means people from all over are commenting on this! Congradualtions on making the whole stinking country mad at you and patriotic towards one article of freedom! This is how the revolutionary war started, and the civil war, and the Franco-Prussian war… They all started with a newspaper article and freedom and patriotisms.

    I believe in Fairy Tales
    I believe in Harvey Dent
    I believe in Patriotism
    I believe in Revolution

  9. I liked this piece a lot, Monsieur Sherron! I think I am a granola new and old intellect, so clearly a person of discerning tastes. Your writing is amusing and fun. My advice to you is, “Don’t listen to your critics, listen to your fans.”

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