Ridiculous erudition

As I see it, there are two big events within professorhood (that is, after getting hired in the first place, and before giving it up). The first is getting tenure, when the threat of being fired is removed. The second is receiving a final promotion to full professor, where the threat of not getting promoted is removed. The overall effect is one of surprising liberation. Or, as I’ve repeated a few times now: when the carrot and stick are taken away, the ass will freely roam.

The relatively new tradition at Utah State is for recently promoted full professors to give an “inaugural lecture” (inaugurating their newfound liberation, I guess). It is supposed to be an occasion on which one reflects over one’s career and says something personal and meaningful. But, in my case, these two objectives are sort of at odds with one another, so I had to come up with something a little different.

It was a grand occasion, with family, colleagues, friends, students, waiters, kitchen help, administrators, etc., held at the presidential residence. I really had fun, and it was a delight to address this audience and to amuse them (at least so far as my meager talents allow). My only disappointment is that I won’t be asked to do it again, on a monthly basis.

I wanted to somehow offer my lecture on this blog, as an audio file coupled with the Powerpoint presentation, since the overall effect turned out pretty nicely (it was a Lawrence-Lessig style presentation, with my lecture punctuated with images and phrases on the screen). But I wasn’t able to pull it off. So, for anyone interested, here’s a pdf of the lecture.

An Assinean mystic and philosopher

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
This entry was posted in Items of the academy / learning, This & that in the life of CH. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Ridiculous erudition

  1. Mike says:

    Congrats. Sounds like a fun event.

    There awaits for you, even now, a place where you will draw your last breath; your eyes will blink, and see no more. Then silence. No more. The planets will keep spinning, the wheels will keep turning, and all without you, just as they did for the ages before your birth. Your life is an infinitely brief interruption, a tiny space where you may register your comments. What are you doing today? [Notebook I app.]

    Reminds me of some of the lines in Whitman’s To Think of Time.


  2. Rob says:

    An artfully and honestly inspiring read, a rare combination. Warm congratulations, and looking forward to what emerges from your liberation.


  3. Huenemann says:

    Thanks, Mike and Rob. And I’m pretty sure Erudite must have read Whitman somewhere along the line!


  4. jerry fuhriman says:

    Your presentation at THE PRESIDENT’S residence was terrific… one idea on how it might have been improved…When congratulating you after the presentation I was able to eyeball the ACTUAL paper. I noticed you had underlined important ideas or statements with a yellow marker. How nice it would have been if you could have had a yellow card (maybe 8″ x 10″) that you could wave at the audience whenever one of the marked passages were read. This would help reinforce the main idea while also bringing color to the presentation. This idea could be expanded by using a specific color for each of your many topics..purple for Nietzche..green for emerson etc. I think this idea is really HUGE.
    Imagine an entire lecture hall decorated to match the paper content. NOW imagine a paper that is not single focused but rather includes the thoughts of many –say 10+- philosophers ..with each philosopher represented by a specific color. ..all of a sudden the audience would not just be looking at a tall bearded-possibly well educated speaker but they would also see the flashing colors of ideas ..horses with colors racing toward the finish line.


  5. Huenemann says:

    Jerry, as usual, is right on the money.


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