By Alice Marie

June 29, 2006

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View from outskirts of Prairie de Rocher, southern Illinois

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May 14, 2006

The Scenario:

I am writing from the bowels of the Social & Behavioral Sciences Building, where I have barricaded myself into a third-floor office with the latest batch of take-home exams from students enrolled in my survey course, Europe, 1815-1914. Below I have provided 1) the question that served as the basis for these papers 2) excerpts from a particularly polemical paper slipped under my office door last night by a particularly disgruntled student and 3) the exact text of the ‘teacher evaluation’ stapled to the paper. I have also included a few observations that I’m trying to craft into coherent comments that I will pencil onto the final page. Any insights and observations are welcome from Gutsy readers, many of whom, I know, are very well-versed on the subject of modern art.

February 4, 2006

I really need to get off this island (that, being Long Island). I can’t say that this morning’s attempt to get caffeinated cemented my decision to move to the city in the Fall, but I’m now fairly certain that my mental health is too precariously balanced to survive another year in the white-flight strip mall, I mean suburb, that stretches almost unbroken from the edge of Queens to the Hamptons.

August 1, 2005

My father once said to me, “If everyone liked you, something would be wrong with you.” Very few people liked my father, and I often wondered if he'd embraced this otherwise random bit of wisdom to justify his own miserable social position in the neighbourhood and at his place of work.

June 7, 2005

My brother, an otherwise adventurous person, has not traveled beyond the Chicago city limits in over ten years. He chooses to stay at home because, as he says, everyone is an asshole, assholes are everywhere, and there is no point is making a special trip to visit them in their own environment. In 1995, after a weekend trip to Wisconsin, he decided that it would probably be best to remain indefinitely at home and deal only with known quantities of assholes.

May 15, 2005

In Confessions of an Opium Eater (1821), a book in which he detailed his slow descent into a tortured state of insatiability and endless agitation, Thomas de Quincy proffered an apology for "breaking through that delicate and honorable reserve, which, for the most part, restrains us from the public exposure of our own errors and infirmities." There is nothing, he wrote, "more revolting to English feelings that the spectacle of a human being obtruding on our notice his moral ulcers or scars," or "tearing away that 'decent drapery'" that separates gratuitously self-humiliating individuals from the "decent and self-respecting part of society." Despite his heightened sense of propriety, de Quincy went to great lengths to explain his addled state. It was his hope that, by providing instruction about the seductive qualities of opium, he might save his readers from harrowing addictions.