Saturday, March 6, 2010

The True Definitions of MA

We all know that PHD really stands for "Piled Higher and Deeper". Of course, that also describes grad school pretty accurately. Tonight, I decided to spend my time in the productive manner of coming up with alternative definitions for MA, rather than reading about Fin-de-Siecle Vienna, like I am supposed to be doing. Here are some of my best definitions:

M.A. (or A.M. if you are in a school that pretends to be British) is generally thought to stand for "Master of Arts". Those of us in grad programs, however, know that it really stands for:

"Massive Angst" - The standard mental condition of graduate students.
"Academic Masochism" - (Courtesy of my friend Josh) The action of taking out an enormous loan in order to pay for self-inflicted mental torture . . . known as grad school.
"Myocardial Assault" - This is what Dr. Mann's book selections do to his students.
"Archival Megalomania" - A temporary euphoric delusion of grandeur felt when one realizes that they are reading documents which a minimal percentage of the world is aware of the existence of.
"Monumental Assignments" - These are given out en masse and expected to be completed in an insufficient amount of time.
"Mental Affectation" - A feeling of intellectual superiority felt when discussing one's thesis topic with someone who has no knowledge of the topic.
"Mental Abasement" - The condition of a graduate student discussing their thesis topic with a professor; also the point at which a grad student realizes that they truly know nothing - usually this occurs while giving a presentation.
"Microsoft Anxiety" - A condition affecting those unfortunate students who do not own a Macbook. It is the constant knowledge that their computer has no deeper desire than to consume and destroy the paper that they just spent all night typing.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"