Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My World-Historical Significance . . .

Fold Along Dotted Line

Readers will recall my recently posted interview with my more handsome, more successful brother, but he's not the only successful individual from our part of the Ozarks. An Ozark friend of mine works in The Hague and deals with diplomats in her high-flying career. I thought that she might be interested in what my brother Shan is up to, so I sent her a link, and she must have homed in on this part of the interview:
Jeffery: You seem to be enjoying a degree of professional success -- which I envy, of course -- so you must be somewhat satisfied with your life . . .

Shannon: I have always thought you were far too hard on yourself for what in actuality was a steep drop in the humanities job market. Basically, virtually no one gets a full-time job in the humanities in disciplines like religious studies, philosophy track these days. I was fortunate to have gotten into a field that was primed for expansion. So, yes I have worked hard and have had success both as a teacher and scholar. But I have to be honest and state the growth of the profession has made it less difficult for me that yours has for you.

After reading the interview -- and particularly this interchange, I presume -- my friend wrote back:
I enjoyed the interview with your brother. For small-town boys, your family, including you, sure have made major contributions to the world. Please don't underestimate the value of your own input. Your teaching, writing, and support of intellectual thinking set a high standard.

I appreciated such high praise, and she ought to know what she's talking about in referring to my "major contributions to the world," dealing with world affairs as she does, so I replied:
Thanks for the kind words about my global significance.

I've not yet heard back from her on that, but I should acknowledge that she's had a rather generous view of my significance ever since I provided semantic analysis on a cryptic diplomatic note from one of her superiors. She didn't let me in on the consequences of my reading, but perhaps by clarifying what otherwise could have been a case of intercultural misunderstanding, I helped prevent an unnecessary war.

Or helped precipitate a necessary one . . .

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