I am taking 18 units this semester in my triumphant encore performance at UC Berkeley. Like "The Family Guy", I left amid poor reviews and little to no popular following a few years ago. Only my die-hard supporters ever dreamed I'd return. They thought my academic career was unfocused and prone to going off on tangents, albeit interspersed with moments of brilliance. They had little no interest in the further adventures of the chubby protagonist, me, but now I'm back. Why? DVD sales, my friend.
Right now, all my classes are running together. In my Irish literature class, thousands are fleeing Ireland during the potato famine. In my American Studies class, they're arriving in Philadelphia and bothering everyone. Stephen Dedalus is critiquing Shakespeare, and so is John Milton. Yeats is quoting Milton. Joyce makes fun of Yeats and the Irish Revival while Stephen Dedalus makes his students read Milton's Lycidas. My professor is also making me read Lycidas. Even Middle Eastern Studies shows an overlap. Thursday on BART, I read a speech from Yeats in the Irish Senate, denouncing the Catholic majority's hardline stance on the legality of divorce. Six hours later, a professor discussed the implications of a majority Shiite party attempting to impose religious law on the country's religious minority. And, of course, Yeats again referenced Milton, whose tract on divorce we'll be reading in two weeks.
This is no accident. A truly balanced acadmemic curriculum has the qualities of wholeness, harmony, and radiance. To create an environment where all of one's classes inform and influence the others, requires careful academic planning, or the liberal use of hallucinogenics during the BART ride to the East Bay.
Here's the plan. One, 68-page, all-encompassing paper tying together everything I've learned in the term. Five entire pages written in Irish. Two in Arabic. It'll show that Hamlet's grandfather was Milton's son, the eerie parallels between Flann O'Brien and Naguib Mahfouz and why the original sin of Adam and Eve has barred the Philadelphia Eagles forever from the glory of Super Bowl victory. There will be seven pages of footnotes, two pages of daguerrotypes, and whole thing will be held together by a sharp-looking clear plastic binder. Make room on the Dean's List, UC Berkeley, and tell those pinheads at the MacArthur Foundation to get some fellowship money together already. That is, once I finish the reading. I'm a little behind.