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.