"...But here's a neighbor on my right,
An Eager Ass, considered bright;
Asker of questions.... How he'll stand,
With earnest air and fidgy hand,
After this hour, telling you
He sat all night and burrowed through
Your book.... Oh, you'll be coy and he
Will simulate precosity,
And pedants both, you'll smile and smirk,
And leer, and hasten back to work....
'Twas this day week, sir, you returned
A theme of mine, from which I learned
(Through various comment on the side
Which you had scrawled) that I defied
The highest rules of criticism
For cheap and careless witticism....
'Are you quite sure that this could be?'
'Shaw is no authority!'
But Eager Ass, with what he's sent,
Plays havoc with your best per cent..."
in Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise
Used to be I'd use this piece of the larger poem to describe people like Schotts or Kyle, with their desperate attempts at mau-mauing the rest of class while schmoozing with the teachers. I read the book junior year, after all, when I was in the throes of MSA withdrawal, and the comparison between the Eager Ass and those two seemed quite obvious to me.
Right now, though, it seems to me that the description can be applied quite well to one local Eager Ass himself. As we've seen before, he's such an ardent champion of the University's cause that he'll jump on anyone who dares speak ill of it in the slightest. Today's provocation? A post on the LiveJournal community about how the tulips in a picture that's in a coffee table book about the university seem like they might have been added with computer editing. The poster wasn't making a definite, hard-and-fast claim, but merely speculating about the possibility that such editing had occurred and asking whether anyone else had noticed:
"Go to the bookstore and look at a copy. Open the book to the big picture with the text that says, "In praise of Wayman Crow..." It's towards the front. Someone tell me...are those computer-generated tulips? Because they look unnaturally shiny and the lighting on them is...wrong. I'm going to go with yes, but...what do you think?"
Enter the Eager Ass, university PR man and lapdog, who manages to drop names while showing, yet again, just how deep in the university's pockets he is:
"I know a lot of the pictures look too good to be real, but everything is. The dean's wife actually wrote the book, and when I was over at their house, she told me about a lot of the book, and I know she worked very hard to get some amazing pics."
Perhaps I just want to believe that the Eager Ass is a kiss-ass, gullible git because his style irritates me, or because I'm innately suspicious of university spokesmen and PR people. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive right now due to hormones or some other subconscious influence. He's quite proud of his position as a PR guy, though, what with being a tour guide and an RA and generally doing all he can to ensure he's in good graces with the administration, so it's hard to deny that that probably has an influence on his thinking.
If there's a party line, it seems, he'll disseminate it. While surely people like him are working hard to ensure that our degrees are worth more by vigorously promoting the university's interests, I still can't help but want to see past that to the reality I know lies behind what they're saying. I think it's great that someone noticed something amiss in the carefully constructed façade we've got going here, and it annoys me when students like the Eager Ass, who are paid by the university to wax positive about the place, end up believing everything the administrators spoon-feed them as divinely given truth. Cognitive dissonance may well be at work here, Mr. Psych Major, whether you want to believe it or not.