Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 12/17/18
When I was an undergraduate at Rutgers, we were required as freshmen to take a course called Western Civilization. I’m not sure that would even be allowed today, and I’m uncertain as to whether “freshmen” may be a micro-aggression (freshpersons?).
Western Civ was taught by a non-tenured professor—after all, it required actually interacting with students a couple of times every week—and it was a large class, perhaps 30 of us. Mine was taught by a Swiss professor with a considerable German accent. It was at 5 pm, so our attention wasn’t exactly riveted. Occasionally, I fell asleep. But I loved the history books assigned, and kept up that way.
One day, a rather lugubrious guy next to me says that there’s no way he can pass the approaching exam. “Why?” I asked, “This is not difficult material.”
“Are you kidding?” he shot back. “France alone had five kings all at the same time.”
Suddenly fearful I had slept through more than a century of history, I asked what he was talking about.
“There was Louis XIV, Louis Catorze, Louis the Great, The Sun King, and Le Roi Soleil,” he counted off on his fingers.
“But they’re all the same person,” I pointed out, relieved.
“Oh, God…” he muttered.
We need to pay attention. It’s one thing to sleep through a college course when you could still read the books and pretty much keep up. It’s tough, though, to sleep through life.
I’ve still not found the life textbook.
(Louis XIV, an educated and progressive monarch, ruled for over 70 years, often dealt with people while on the commode, his life was chronicled closely daily, and on only one occasion during all that time is it recorded that he took a bath. He once politely opened a window for a visiting ambassador, realizing, despite the perfume and powder, he stank.)
History repeats itself. So you might wanna pay attention. —Quave