We’re back at it again with the Core Archetypes. Senior Staffer Betsy Ladyzhets brings us up-close and personal with the person who has committed to memory the placement of every bracket in Sappho’s fragments.
You get to class early, but they are already there.
They sit at the precise opposite end of the table from the door (where your professor usually sits), scribbling something down in a Moleskin notebook. Out in front of them are a thermos patterned with the face of who you think is Edgar Allen Poe, and a copy of the text you were supposed to read – with little colored sticky notes poking out of what seems like every other page.
You take out your own copy. It’s much blanker, and the position of your bookmark makes it painfully obvious that you’ve only read to page twenty-five. You open it and try to skim the next twenty pages as fast as you can, but the person on the other side of the room makes it hard for you to focus. Something about their expression seems to convey that they’re judging you, and finding you sadder than an empty plastic bag crumpled on the sidewalk at 2am.
When class starts, your position doesn’t improve. They dominate the discussion, raising their hand whenever the professor asks a question, and referring back to their (apparently encyclopedic) annotations to find a quotation to support each statement. At one point, they even pull a quote from page 157 – only a couple of pages before the tail end of your reading assignment. You didn’t even know people did the full reading assignment for classes like this! What did this person do, not sleep last night just so that they could show up everyone else?
You can tell you’re not the only one feeling frustrated. Your classmates stare at each other, as wide-eyed as though they just saw PrezBo out in the open on College Walk. None of you expected each other to take this class seriously. None of you had time to do the full reading. None of you wants to be here for another thirty-five minutes.
Finally, you decide that you just can’t take it anymore. You raise your hand.
“Professor,” you say, “I think we should also consider the broader implications of this text in the current world – especially considering the mess the United States’ political system is in.”
The professor compliments you on a point well made, and you stare directly across the table. They flip frantically through their annotations, trying to find relevant textual evidence to counter you, but before they can, one of your classmates speaks up:
“So, I think it’s safe to assume that we all watched the debate last weekend, and …”
And that’s it. The class discusses the election for the rest of the period. They try to distract the conversation, but their pleas for rhetorical analysis and discussion of the writer’s use of syntax become increasingly ignored. When class ends, they storm out in a huff, grasping their thermos so tightly, their knuckles are white. You smirk, satisfied with your victory. Who needs to do the reading, anyway?
furiously thinking about words via Getty Images