Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stories that Circulate About You If You Live Long Enough

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Don't get an M.F.A. (final post)

My first course in graduate school was a survey on Melville. Melville is my favorite writer. The professor for the class was Brian Higgins, one of the great Melville scholars in the world. (I'm sorry to find out that Brian died in May.) This was as close to Heaven as I would ever find in life. He told a story about fellow Melville scholar Hershel Parker. A former student of Parker's drunk-dialed him in the middle of the night once, his plaintive voice pleading for an answer to the question, "My God, Hershel, what does Moby-Dick mean?" Parker was reportedly proud of the answer he managed to scrape together while still half-asleep: "When you go up against the universe, you're likely to get the shit kicked out of you."

I hope you liked that anecdote. It cost me about $50,000.

1 comment:

  1. Was that not you? I know Brian wasn't telling the story about himself. We talked a lot about your biography in that class, so maybe I just assumed it was you. You should claim it even if it's not you. It's a pretty good 2 A.M. answer to that question. I wonder whose story it originally was.