Parallel Lives

Written by

Bwogger Armin Rosen admits that this brief survey of people with the same name as other people who happen to be Columbia professors is random as hell, but bear with him.

I’ve never read Dostoevsky’s The Double, but I assume the story goes a little something like this: a successful English professor is wrongfully accused of his wife’s murder, only to wake up in the body of a mid-decade, D-list sitcom actor, who finishes his PhD in English only to be wrongfully accused of his wife‘s murder and wake up in the body of a mid-decade, D-list movie actor. What’s that, commenter: what I’m actually describing is a thinly-veiled cross between Lost Highway and Groundhog Day? Read a book, my friend: with this whole “postmodernism” thing, anybody can be anything, ever. Everything is relative! The author is dead! And Columbia professors lead strange double-lives within the bodies of other people! Sound like a Spike Jonze movie? Well maybe it should be–“Being Jeffrey Sachs” sounds like the surprise hit of 2008.

David Helfand

The man who introduced a generation of Columbia undergrads to the wonders of science (and a PhD student to the horrors of…well, the horrors of err, dancing with the man who introduced a generation of Columbia undergrads to the wonders of science) might not believe in God, but he sure believes in making great television. Proud owner of Columbia’s most accomplished doppelganger, Helfand went from producing overrated network garbage (sorry, “Friends” fans), to editing underrated, subscription-only works of television genius. Were his two sides merged, Helfand would be the only untenured senior faculty member ever to win a CableACE award.

Bruce Robbins

Back in the early 90s, when everyone thought the hot-shot Rutgers professor was writing catchily-titled theoretical harangues like “From Epistemology to Society” and “Death and Vocation: Narrativizing Narrative Theory,” Brucie was up to a little narrativizing of his own—remember Darnell from “The Hat Squad?” Y’know, the character that kept on…well, I actually have no idea what that character kept on doing, only that this apparently bifurcated identity operating on multiple levels of physicality and temporality in a trans-historical socio-cultural sphere, is proof that Robbins knows how to get down with his bad, postmodern self.

Wen Jin

The whole Lit-Hum “cheating” thing doesn’t seem that important in retrospect, and after this semester’s raft of controversy, last spring’s kafuffle over “academic ‘integrity'” feels wholesome in that end-of-the-year, tempest-in-a-teacup sort of way. Far more important is Wen Jin’s past life as a prolific Taiwanese cinematographer, during which the Asian American Studies professor worked on such films as “Errant Love,” “A Love Seed,” “Love Under a Rosy Sky” and “Orchids and My Love.” Alas, her one foray into the world of directing was so unspeakably bad that its name has been blotted from the cinematographic record

Andrew Delbanco

According to the almighty source of all information ever, Abraham Lincoln was given to abstract, proto-Lynchian dreams about an imaginary double. And who’s to say Lincoln hagiographer Andrew Delbanco doesn’t dream about his double, who by an unfortunate classificatory quirk is listed as playing himself in a documentary called “Faces of Evil?” Bad luck, DeWitt Clinton Professor of the Humanities and one-time Time Magazine social critic of the year!

Except upon closer examination, this is, unfortunately, the same Andrew Delbanco that teaches at Columbia. But its nevertheless worth bringing attention to his remarkably low golf score (at a 7,000 yard course, no less), and to the fact that somebody at IMDB knows about his remarkably low golf score. I’m personally glad to see that one of Columbia’s top scholars of educational inequality is playing the public course.

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  1. Okay sorry

    This might possibly be the dumbest (and worst written) post I've ever read on Bwog.

  2. ...  

    Between this, the masturbatory terrier post, and anything written by CML, I am tempted never to come to this website again.

  3. Wait  

    Bulliet is a professor? I always assumed he was a mid-value bourbon whiskey.

  4. Unfortunately  

    This may be the best thing Rosen has even written.

  5. i think

    rosen's stuff is pretty good. same to cml. in fact, i can't imagine which bwog poster you'd prefer over either of them.

  6. so yeah  

    that menorah is so ugly. sub-par

  7. why bwog?  

    why was this posted? it's terribly written and boring.

  8. i agree  

    this is rubbish indeed.

  9. baaad  

    this post was lame.

    the menorah on bwog is also lame.

  10. coogan

    okay, i just read the post. this is great, but you forgot to mention mark slouka. bollinger, maybe you could talk about why prof. slouka never got tenure at columbia and had to go to uchicago to get a wonderful position? why couldn't you hold on to the real new yorkers? Long live Melville!

  11. Mike Bushnell

    All i ever see in the comments page on this website is "this is lame" or "this sux" or some other weak ass rip on armin behind a fake name that lacks any substantive criticism at all. As an editor at a flagship southern state university, i can tell you that all the work on this website is leaps and bounds beyond anything we could begin to try (and the menorah is a nice touch, even if it is being lit from the wrong side). i wish we could do blogs like this, and i feel bad that i havent been more dedicated to starting something like this.

    but all the pretentious ripping of armin is ridiculous to read and makes me, a proud progressive and elitist native east coaster, understand why so many people out here think new yorkers are all pricks who kiss their own asses so much they have to brush the shit out of their mouth every morning. if you dont like his work, dont read it. if you disagree with a point he makes, i think you should just say that. but saying "this is lame" behind the cowardly veil of the internet and a fake name is beyond weak. i thought all you new yorkers were tough.

  12. Mike?

    This may be two years old, but you went to high school with Armin and were friends with of course your going to say that...

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