Monday, November 09, 2020

the cramped Wissenschaftlichkeit of a 19th cent. German philologist

A philosopher friend and I got into a brief discussion of "taking offense" that led to this anecdote of mine:

I only get offended at things like personal betrayal. I once proofread a book on women and religion for a feminist friend, and I showed her how she could strengthen her basic argument considerably by a few adjustments. When I told her this, she stared at me for about three long seconds, then said, "Well, I guess you learned something from my book." I was speechless. Later, when I applied for a job in which I'd need to teach a bit about women in religion, she refused to support me and wouldn't acknowledge my input on her own book. Our friendship didn't survive. 

My philosopher friend replied:

A good maxim of psychological hygiene these days: Avoid personal contact with leftists . . . Nothing good is likely to come of it. I have a policy of non-pollution: Physically, psychologically, and spiritually I watch what I allow into my system. 'Blogically': comment moderation! How did your "feminist friend" become your friend?

I responded:

We met in Germany. She had recently left a nunnery and was still a pious Catholic who carried a guitar that bore the words "Jesus is Lord!" Or something like that. She had a good sense of humor, so we hit it off as friends. She had a generous side, and she invited me to Australia to work on her research as an assistant. There, she began to change, partly as she started to recognize that I was more knowledgeable than she was, though she was stronger in the necessary languages than I was, except for Coptic, in which I then excelled. Apparently, I made some sort of mistake, missed an important Manichaean fragment, though she acknowledged that the same material was found later in another fragment, which I did transcribe. But she said she couldn't trust my research any more. I pointed out that she had also made mistakes, which she acknowledged, but she was adamant that I was untrustworthy. She wrote a neutral paragraph as letter for me to use as I "deem fit"(her words), and I couldn't believe she thought I would try to use such a thing in applying for a job. Nobody would hand a letter to a job committee as supposed support. Everybody knows that the one doing the 'recommending' sends the letter. I was disgusted with her. That's how it ended.

My philosopher friend remarked:

A renegade nun! . . . With the cramped Wissenschaftlichkeit of a 19th cent. German philologist. This must have been during your Wanderjahren before Korea, before Weib und Kind, Haus und Hof

I replied to my philosopher friend that there was overlap. That's a reason I didn't stay in Australia and fight. I had no job. I had a wife and and two small children to care for. I left for Korea because I knew that I could at least teach English there. Which I have . . .


At 11:36 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

What happened to her guitar?

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

It lies stored away in her attic, hidden there like a bad memory, and will remain in that place until the return of the repressed . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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