The Toni Morrison full stop

Andrew Kay writes entertainingly for the Chronicle of Higher Education, a topic dear to our tenured heart. A typical victim survivor of the humanities PhD pyramid scheme (or was it drug cartel?), Kay infuses just enough bitterness into his writing to lightly tug on empathy, but not so much as to evoke downright pity. He’s made out more or less ok, all things considered.

In “Fanning the Flames While the Humanities Burn“, he channels the PTT insight that the humanities could reasonably expect broad and enthusiastic societal support only so long as they kept their end of the bargain. Predictably, the piece drew shrill pushback from the usual suspects, which is why we can’t have nice things. His more recent piece looked promising, and we would have read it to the end, had we not encountered

In 40 years, English departments, if they existed at all, might manage to cover the grandest specimens — Morrison and Milton, say.

MLK full stop, meet your cousin — the Toni Morrison full stop. I’ve read John Milton. I’ve (been forced to) read Toni Morrison. It’s not exactly a Newton/motha functor equivalence, but it’s enough to make you spit whatever you were drinking. (And the fact that Morrison got every literary award possible while D’Neil has yet to get Nobel might have something to do with the humanities’ rapidly waning relevance — though STEM might not be far behind.)

Seriously, Kay, did you really think that this over-the-top groveling homage to a plainly inferior writer would inoculate you against charges of racism? It didn’t. When the cure gets rolled out, you might not be the first in line to get the treatment, but you’ll be far from last.

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