The problem with being a clever person is that every clever person somehow thinks he (she) is the only clever person (persun) and is always shocked when discovering that quite the opposite is true. In fact, in a world with billions of people, how in the world could I have possibly imagined that I would be the first to think of this clever post title? But it is clever, right? And I did think of it on my own, even if many other clever people beat me to it.
I guess this may be the reason for writing books--anyone can think up a pun, but surely I'll never write a book only to find out that someone else has written it, right?
I came to BYU as a transfer student. After my first, oh, six months and after serious consideration, I decided to be join the honors program. I did not want to join unless I was sure I could do it and was sure I wanted to do it. The clincher was that I would have to write a thesis. I was very excited about that.
I spent the rest of that summer finishing all the other honors requirements so that the following fall I could focus on my thesis, then get back to my regular coursework knowing that special graduation-time asterisk would be by my name.
I took a class that fall that was supposed to provide resources to get my thesis done. It seemed like a good idea because hey--why not get credit for work I would be doing anyway? Seemed like an easy A and a smoother semester. I knew what my thesis would be on, had already done much of the research and knew exactly how it would play out.
The class's first assignment was to go to the library and look up former students' theses and try to find one in near approximation to my topic so that I could see how other students had handled such things.
I did not find a near approximation. I found my paper--in some places a word-for-word plagiarization of the paper I had not yet written.
Which was disheartening to be sure, but that was not the worst part.
The worst part was this: The thesis I found was written crappily--it was worse than my rough draft would have been. Its points were not well supported; its syntax was frequently awkward; its research was incomplete; its worth was small. Yet, in outline, it was my paper. And so close to my paper that, as I read it, I knew I could never write mine. Because I could never be sure which ideas were mine and which were "stolen" from the hack who came before--or if there was even a difference. And if I could not tell, how could anyone else?
So there I was--in a thesis-writing class without a topic.
I scrambled and tried to sell my backup plans to professors, but being an unknown-quantity transfer student and a poor salesman, no one was at all interested in taking me on.
After weeks of trying to salvage my thesis--any thesis--I had to drop the class and accept the blackmark on my transcript.
And that was the first of what would become a swiftly accumulating pile of reasons to scrap the whole grad school plan.
Anyway, the point is how jolly it is to be clever.
Clevito ergo sum?
Stupito ergo sum?ReplyDelete
Ah, now I can't resist.ReplyDelete
Fobito ergo sum.
Of course, I hope that every card-carrying fob can say the same.
Oh, you guys are killing this student of Latin.ReplyDelete
Stop. Please, stop.
And here I thought you would appreciate it best...