Erich Heller Artifact: Wee UD. [Scroll down a bit for other recent Heller posts.]
Debbie Schwartz, UD‘s Northwestern University roommate, gave her The Artist’s Journey into the Interior as a present. Later, as Deborah, Debbie would go on to do pretty well for herself.
Paul de Man blurbs it!
Typical underlining.

Credo in Unum Presidentum.

Recite The Credo with me.

‘With Falwell’s ouster, one of the most influential evangelical institutions in the country is facing an identity crisis: There’s never been a time when Liberty wasn’t led by a Falwell.’

UD proposes as his replacement King Juan Carlos.

Ladies, it’s never too late…

for a trim!

“[T]he most important thing is for the G.O.P. to take such a shellacking in November that they will remember it as the political equivalent of an unsedated colonoscopy.”

Who knew Bret Stephens was capable of such great zingers?

I mean, okay, yes, you could argue there’s a whopper of a mixed metaphor lurking in there (shellacking/colonoscopy?). Who cares.


“No, [Jerry] Falwell isn’t facing anything like the academic equivalent of the death toll, economic ruin, and social upheaval that’s now occurring on [his buddy and role model] Trump’s watch, but beneath Liberty’s gleaming exterior, there are signs of trouble. 

In fact, if you’re an academic, you’ll recognize the significance of numbers like these. Here is the shocking decline in Liberty’s freshman applications.”

There are two nonsense poems in Reading Claudius…

… the memoir about UD’s Northwestern University professor, Erich Heller. I’ll have more to say today about the book and the memories it stirred, but the nonsense poems inspired me to try one of my own.


Every black pit bull speaks some Lithuanian. 
If you try to engage them them in Lett, or Ukrainian 
They’ll look at you rudely, as if you’re insanian. 

The custom’s quite different among Pomeranians: 
With them it is Latvian during their trainian. 
Polish? Or German? They claim it’s arcanian. 

With lhasas it’s loopy because they’re Lacanian. 
They’ll mirror your speech act whatever you’re sayingin – 
A curious feature too hard to explainian. 

Whatever the tongue of your canine campanian 
Conversing with them will transcend entertainingian 
And move straight to the realm of the supermundanian.

YES! For years, UD tried to convince her aesthetics students…

… that Mount Rushmore was America’s grandest outcropping of kitsch.

No, no, they’d say! I went there in the fourth grade with my family and we all thought it was awesome!


WE HAVE GOT TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN. If it takes a Go Fund Me page; if it takes bake sales all over this land, my lord, all over this land; if it takes sacrifice sacrifice and more sacrifice, this has got to happen.


Will it be as great as Carhenge? No. But it will be great.

‘Others say big Republican givers are holding back checks [to Trump’s reelection campaign] because of the potential business fallout of being a major Trump contributor. After word surfaced that fitness company executive Stephen Ross was hosting a Hamptons fundraiser for Trump, patrons at his Equinox and SoulCycle chains staged a boycott.’

Yes, yes. But the main thing is:

Look at the second photograph in this article. The picture of Sheldon Adelson and Trump. Doesn’t Adelson’s hair go with Trump’s face, and Trump’s hair go with Adelson’s face?

Falwell Jr. Placed on Leave:

See how the Devil and the Demon Rum Deceive!

“Her complexion has no brilliancy,” says nasty Caroline Bingley…

… of her rival Elizabeth Bennet; and this oldish word – brilliancy – came to UD‘s mind as she contemplated her undergraduate professor, Erich Heller. Not prone to thinking about the past (or the future – your blogueuse is somewhat in the buddhist way), UD was borne back into the past (truncated Great Gatsby reference there … hey it was your decision to read a literary blogger), via this memoir, written by Heller’s niece, and very much an evocation of the scholar of Rilke and Kafka who had a great impact on wee UD at Northwestern University in the 1970’s.

Heller’s brilliancy – by which I mean in part charisma – is obvious enough in this portrait of the young man as an impassioned Czech Jewish aesthete.

When I knew him, he looked like this.

Still the fully open, searching, lively eyes. He was always a beautiful polished dresser, which contrasted vividly with the thready hippies to whom he lectured so fiercely about the loss of meaning in the modern world. His own world had flamboyantly fallen apart with the Nazis, from whom he barely managed to escape, while his beloved brother spent years in concentration camps. (He also managed to survive.)

It was utterly, almost comically, clear to UD, as this man lectured, that he saw no way in which he could possibly begin to convey his and the world’s historical, spiritual, and existential wound to these frisky frisbee throwers.

Sixtyish, gay, hyper-snobby, dismissive of all NU students, all Americans (after cosmopolitan Prague, he spent years at Cambridge University, and now found himself prone on the prairie), and certainly all women (does the memoir ever make that one clear), Heller nonetheless hugely, hotly, attracted deine kleine Bloggerin.

How hotly? I had recurrent waking and sleeping fantasies about stumbling upon a solitary suffering Heller on the school’s lakeside beach and comforting him. Just – you know – happening to be the only person in the world who fully intuited his intellectual and emotional grief, his vell-done Weltschmerz (I’m antic about it now, but I assure you it was all passionately earnest then)…

Or imagine this – I was taking his all-Rilke-all-the-time course, and it was I don’t know the fifth Heller course I’d taken (Kafka, Thomas Mann, Nietzsche, Kleist?) and I was all fired-up as usual to re-enter this man’s hallowed hall … And yet from the first day of that particular course, I would sit, take out my paperback, and, at the opening “semi-operatic” tones of Heller’s voice (the memoir writer calls them this; I’d simply say operatic – he had a fine booming basso), fall completely to sleep. Ach, Doktor Freud, do tell. Vot vos dis Heller shpell?


I wrote excellent exams and papers, appeared every day in all his courses, sat there at full attention (I figured out how to stay awake in the Rilke course; I cured myself, Doktor!) – eventually the poor man had to notice me a little bit. I didn’t care whether he did, but eventually he did. I remember two post-class chats: In one I must have mentioned Nabokov and was startled by the casual violence of Heller’s dismissal of him (something about his obscenity?). The other is much more vivid to me because it was much more consequential. I told him that I was miserable in the Medill School of Journalism (I’d enrolled there rather than become an English major because I’d convinced myself I’d never get a job with a degree in English), absolutely miserable. And he looked at me with those avid open eyes and just as casually said: “If you are not happy there, vhy don’t you leave?”

And I swear to you, mes petites, minutes after this exchange I marched to the journalism building and began the process of dropping out of Medill.

More on Heller later today. Must weed. As UD likes to say: Weeding is fundamental.

The American University as Pain Slut, Pt. 2

Texas Tech must be seen to be believed. In this earlier post, UD surveyed the school’s long list of sadistic coaches – not to mention its bringing on board and giving all its money to luminaries like Alberto Gonzales and Tommy Tuberville – and concluded that something way kinky was going on there. It’s as if the place seeks after twisted people to hurt its students and its reputation.

Incredibly, this idea – that TTU actually recruits the sadistic as a kind of school policy – seems not so wild. For with all that sadomasochism behind it, TTU went and hired another one … or another two…

Twelve of the 21 women who played for Texas Tech since [Marlene] Stollings took over the program in 2018 have left, [citing player abuse]…. [Also, players accused] former strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella of berating and sexually harassing them … [Stollings has now also been fired.]

Luckily, assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins is still there!

[One player reports she was] told by assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins to snap a rubber band on her wrist when she had a negative thought.


Plus you don’t have to be selected for a varsity team to get the shit beat out of you in Lubbock. Lubbock is one of America’s most violent cities. Just walk outside.

‘In a car ride about a decade ago with a senior university official who has since left Liberty, “all [Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr.] wanted to talk about was how he would nail his wife, how she couldn’t handle [his penis size], and stuff of that sort,” this former official recalled.’

Oh Lord, our President Falwell

Doth really really ball well.

Thou madest his cock

To roll and to rock.

Amen! He hath answered thy Call well.

The only thing left to make UD’s day…

would be the revelation that Wayne LaPierre took all those private taxpayer-subsidized jets to Jeffrey Epstein’s island.

But you can’t have everything.


Broke, rudderless, and mired in costly litigation, the NRA is now facing a real possibility of going out of business—or being forcibly dismantled.

… LaPierre [takes] a $2.1 million salary, enormous for the head of a nonprofit—the NRA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) social welfare organization …

UD’s sister-in-law photographs her nearest upstate NY…

… neighbors.

Next Page »

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Dr. Bernard Carroll, known as the "conscience of psychiatry," contributed to various blogs, including Margaret Soltan's University Diaries, for which he sometimes wrote limericks under the name Adam.
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George Washington University English professor Margaret Soltan writes a blog called University Diaries, in which she decries the Twilight Zone-ish state our holy land’s institutes of higher ed find themselves in these days.
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There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

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Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
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From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
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As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
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Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
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