Before the coronavirus, you were busy with this and that and the other, plus faculty meetings. Back in 1840s Concord, it was the same shit, but worse. Imagine that instead of that prissy early modernist who just lateraled over from Colgate, your local competition was Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nate Hawthorne. Jesus, the pressure was unbearable.
…So you assign it and then open up class with that one time Bernie got arrested at a civil rights protest back in ’63. Here’s the thing, though: you yourself would no sooner spend a night in jail than spend a summer hoeing beans. (And you were secretly for Warren.)
…Worried about getting sick? I died of consumption, aggravated by a cold that I got from that douchebag Bronson Alcott — who, I shit you not, caught it at a teacher’s conference. Worried about falling behind on your work? I kept Homer’s Iliad on my table for an entire summer, but I barely had time to read two pages, what with all the bean-hoeing. Worried what you’ll do if your tenure app is denied? My Plan B was making pencils.
“Who’s Laughing Now, Assholes?” A Letter from Henry David Thoreau to Literature Faculties at Cushy Liberal Arts Schools – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency