Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » July 2005 » Inspiring a sad musing....

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07/31/2005: Inspiring a sad musing....

Over at "Our Obligatory Blog", net friend Stan Schwarz tells us of a teacher who changed his life, obviously for the better. It's a fun little story, and well worth taking a gander at....

Though he makes me realize that I can't name a teacher in my whole academic career who was in any way so influential that I can say that s/he changed my life.

Not one.

I was going to end this by saying I'd think about it, and see if I couldn't identify a teacher who'd had a life-changing influence on me, but then it hit me that this was simply silly. If there were such a teacher in my life, s/he would come to mind immediately. The very fact that I'd have to think about it proves to me that such a teacher has as much objective existence as "the present King of France", to use a famous example.

This is not to say that I've not had any good teachers. In fact, I can name one right off the bat--Carl Wellman, the premier scholar in ethics during my time at Washington University; my only hesitation at calling Professor Wellman "good" is that it just isn't a good enough superlative, but for that matter "most excellent" isn't good enough to describe him, either--and I don't feel that taking some time to think about all my teachers to identify the good ones isn't that silly. But none, alas, provided me with any sort of "life changing" experience.

One might have. In fact, I've never forgiven Steven Lubet, of Northwestern University School of Law, for two things he did while he was one of my clinical teachers there. The first thing was being such a scathing critic of my work under him that, depressed for a week afterward, I gave serious thought to dropping out of law school.

The second thing I've never forgiven him for is later calling me into his office, tempering his criticism, telling me that it was meant not to be harsh, but to inspire me to be the best lawyer that I could be, and causing that depression to lift. As a result, I finished law school. If he'd have just kept his goddamned mouth shut, I'd have dropped out of law school, and saved myself a lot of time, money, and heartbreak.

And probably be precisely where I am now.

So....I've had the worst of all possible worlds. Not only have I not had the pleasure of a teacher who changed my life for the better; I've had one who, when he could have changed my life for the better, totally fucked up.

Nothing to do but soldier on, I guess.


Len on 07.31.05 @ 12:05 PM CST

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