Where Has the Joy Gone?

Larry Clayton, May 2002

Bravo. Great article in Perspectives. Where, indeed, has the joy gone? I remember clearly (don't we all?) someone who inspired me to actually go and buy books to satisfy my interest in the course I was taking with him (Russian history at Duke with Warren Lerner back in the early 1960s). What a great lecturer! We'd walk out convinced Marxists after one lecture; and then, after the next, we'd wonder why the Russians would ever turn to communism. Questions, questions, issues, things that made us think!

Where has the joy gone? Our junior faculty are all driven by the tenure agenda. Portfolios, constant visits to classrooms, dozens of "i"s to be dotted and "t"s to be crossed, all hurrying along like in some 1950s movie of the men in the gray flannel suits going into the city. I lived in Plainfield, New Jersey, and remember my dad dutifully boarding the Jersey Central Rail Road every morning and returning after dark from the city. I didn't want to do that, even though my dad loved his work (which, truthfully, was spent more in Latin America than in downtown New York City).

Anyhow, you are so right in your article. Thanks for making your case so clearly, for drawing up a picture of what truly attracted us to this lovely muse that has been a source of joy, and wonderment, and learning in our life.

Larry Clayton
University of Alabama