Monday, March 08, 2010

Greatest Comparativist in History

On the scabrous PSJR site, the questions was raised, "Greatest Comparativist Ever? Living or Dead?"

Usual names. Someone suggested Marx. My response is here:

Marx is plausible as an answer to the "Best Comparativist."

But he was a student of Aristotle. And, Aristotle's work on comparatie constitutions is still widely cited.

I think you have to go with Aristotle, then. The problem is that none of his work was refereed, and even his books were not published by major presses. That may be why he didn't get tenure, after Plato deeded the Academy over to his nephew Speusippus. Of course, Ari had to go look for another job, even though he had great teaching evaluations and had been doing all the busy work for Plato for years.

Fortunately, having ivy league background gave Ari a leg up when he moved to Asia Minor, but who wants to have to teach in one of those "directional countries"? Ari ended up hiring out to teach some rich brat, who left to fight wars before they got to the more advanced stuff.

Ari went back to Athens, but got snubbed AGAIN for the TT job at the Academy. That brown-noser Xenocrates got the job, leave Ari to work as a VAP. Ari started his own school, the Lyceum, and did some of his best work, including two big NSF grants and attracting some excellent grad students. (And I mean, EXCELLENT. I think one of Michael Ting's ancestors thought about going to the Lyceum, but ended up staying at Columbia)

But then there were student riots after Alexander the Great died. The students were pissed off about core requirements, and of course the hegemony of "dead Macedonians" in the curriculum. Ari was accused of impiety, and loudly making that motorboat sound whenever he saw a hot undergraduate wearing a low-cut peplos. Some deans threatened to put a committee together to study some of the contingencies of toughening their rhetoric, and Ari had to go live with his mom on the island of Euboea.

Moral of the story: Publish in refereed journals, and get a tenure-track job. Otherwise, even if you are the greatest comparativist who EVER lived, you may have to go live with your mom. Oh, and don't make that motorboat sound.


MAG said...

It is probably also important to recognize that part of the reason he didn't get the jobs he wanted in Athens was that he was one of those undocumented aliens that the Lou Dobbses of the time were convinced were responsible for all of the ills plaguing Athens.

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