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except that Maureen Dowd is kind of a wrecking ball of a writer,
and Soltan isn't. For the life of me, I can't figure out her
politics, but she's pretty fabulous, so who gives a damn?"
(Tenured Radical)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


FROM: Janice Sidley [for background, see UD, 30 November 03]]


The promising new field of Spa Studies has just produced its first high-profile, "very credible" (in the words of its author, Mary Tabacchi) study, of relative degrees of satisfaction in spa versus non-spa vacations ("Cornell Study Reports Destination Spa Vacations Result in Increased Business Acumen, Energy," in PRNewswire, Cornell University, May 17).

To a significant degree, people prefer spa to non-spa resorts because they return to work from them refreshed, focused, and, in the words of the study, "able to function at an inspirational level in business and in their relationships." The "immersion spa vacation," the study goes on, enables one to "sort out the truly essential aspects of life," "achieve healthier, more joyous living," and be "in the zone." Tabacchi, who is also a member of the board of directors of the International Spa Association, and whose courses at Cornell include Hotel Administration 432: Contemporary Healthy Foods, concludes that "creativity" and "harmony" are measurably enhanced in spa vacations versus non-spa vacations.

Okay, well, what does this have to do with the Alliance for A's?

Our group, I remind you, is engaged in more than the maintenance of grade inflation in America's colleges and universities. We are, more broadly, dedicated to easing the on-campus lives of American college and university students in any way that we can.

Now, yes, I know that some campuses have already added certain elements (massage, hot tub, hot rocks) of the spa experience to their Wellness Centers; but this study is telling us that our students will never perform at the top of their capacity until an immersion experience is available to them. How to pay for it?

Go back up there and read what Tabacchi said about the immersion experience. It enables one to "sort out the truly essential aspects of life." What university department has historically specialized in this? Right, philosophy. And what field is one of the least popular, most struggling, among the humanities? Right again. Of course people want to sort out what's essential! But who wants to do it in an underlit classroom with a hardback anthology on your lap in which you squintingly try to make sense of Heidegger? And, even more important, who wants to conclude that life is a tragic, failed effort to return to some ground of meaning, some lost plenitude of being, when you can attain "joyous living" through spa immersion?

In short, I'm proposing the replacement of philosophy departments in the American university with immersion spas. Not only will this free funds (which will be supplemented, of course, with university/corporate arrangements) for new I.S. departments; it will acknowledge what we all know: that the depressive aura of philosophical thought in our time has undermined the happiness of our students, and that it's urgent that we begin doing something about it.

As always, I welcome your feedback!