Anna Kaladish & Rob Sherron, Contributing Writers
Hello. This article is brought to you by the reviled Rob Sherron and the abhorred Anna Kaladish. I, Anna, wrote an intentionally stilted and moralistic article titled “Collective amnesia amongst the female UD populace” in which I suggested that one should be critical about unquestioningly adopting silly fashion trends. It was taken to be professing the damnation of all women who have ever left the kitchen or worn short sleeves.
I, Rob, wrote a self-satirical piece, “To our Catholic Great Gatsbys,” playfully mocking the divisions at UD and, in the end, relating the embarrassing story of my attempt and failure to seem more intellectual than I am. It was taken to be an indictment of anyone who did not grow up in a stereotypically Catholic-intellectual household as members of an inferior class—which would have to, in reality, include me.
This speaks to an embarrassing fact about most of the student body: Your reading comprehension seems occasionally to lapse.
Instead of recognizing a non-serious tone, students often seem to turn into little Quixotes who tilt at us-shaped windmills.
Clearly, the robust intellectual preparation afforded by our UD education has a gaping hole.
This fault lies not in the ignorant youths who gibbered incoherently over our respective pieces, but with the guardians of this noble institution, who have taught us how to scoff, but not to laugh.
To read carefully, but to miss the whole point.
We have no long-term solution to this problem, but we do have a first step: introduce satire into the Lit Trad sequence so that these kids, apparently bred in humorless households, will be able to recognize the basic marks of a satirically toned piece. For example, we could jettison Mansfield Park, notorious for its dry, condescendingly humorless protagonist (sound familiar?) for one of her actually funny narratives.
In fact, maybe we could completely overhaul Lit Trad IV to include a healthy dose of Alexander Pope. Perhaps it doesn’t quite jibe with the sequence, but it is evidently necessary.
Or assign The Apes of God, and thus encourage everyone who came to UD solely for the Rome program to transfer, before their poisonous personalities do too much damage to the populace.
However, just introducing the hoi polloi to satire isn’t enough, because this is the primary problem: a disturbing tendency to conflate the author’s personal views with precisely the literal signification of their writing.
The fact of the matter is that the author and the page are actually distinct! One can employ radical tone without actually being a radical! Some writers just want to have fun! Better an inflammatory article than yet another inflamed couch in Old Mill.
It’s all in good fun, and the former won’t give you cancer. Related to this problem of distinguishing the author from his work, there is the tendency among the offended people to assume that anyone who seems “intolerant” agrees with absolutely everything else that is “intolerant.” Au contraire, Rob doesn’t agree with the opinion presented in my article. Shocker.
Of course, I approached Anna and said, “Anna, I think the onus is on men to not objectify women in these situations, not on the women to accommodate the men,” rather than going online and shouting, “U PRUDE!!!”
We do need to work towards greater unity in our faith and on our campus. Recognizing and dialoguing about issues is the first step. One-on-one conversation, sometimes spurred by a newspaper article, is the surest way.
A young lady recently was exemplary in this regard. By writing a letter to the editor, she proposed we work to unify the spring and fall Romers. Mary Jones, I think you are right, and I’m willing to bridge that gap. Let’s start this Friday. Over dinner. Maybe a moonlit walk. We’ll see how it goes.
Wishing you a literate and modestly clad summer vacation!
– Anna and Rob