Davis’ Final Pearls of Wisdom at UT

As I approach the end of this final semester of my college career and my December graduation, I find it behooves me to tell those in their salad days, when they are green in years, exactly what I have learned while I was in school.

I have learned that academia is a dense world of highly qualified people fighting for precious few opportunities, and that it provides immediate and absolute lessons of humility for those unwilling to accept these facts.

I have learned that you shouldn’t smoke cigarettes, but if you do, smoke American Spirit filtered. They’re potent, only marginally more deadly, and will contain both fresher and smoother tobacco. Just don’t let them sit around, since they have no additives and will go stale swiftly.

I have learned that some professors like it when you agree with them, some like it more when you disagree with them, but that not a single one tolerates unsubstantiated name-calling, with every single one considering it unprofessional to refer to Jacques Derrida as a “doodyhead.”

I have learned that you shouldn’t drink beer, but if you do, drink a nice Belgian wheat (of which the most popular is Blue Moon), a hearty stout (such as Rogue Brewery’s Chocolate Stout), or a distinctive specialty brew (such as the excellent Sam Adams’ Cream Stout). If possible, purchase a standard Pilsner glass from a thrift store, since it improves your beer experience to a surprising degree.

I have learned that, as an English major, the hardest classes are almost without exception the better ones. Among the most valuable classes I have ever taken are Dr. Schenck’s Literary Theory and Criticism, Dr. Mathews’ Pre-Raphaelites, and Dr. Mendolsohn’s Hemingway seminar. This is not to say that I have not greatly enjoyed and learned from other classes, but to fail to take the above – if they are offered to you – would be a disservice.

I have learned that you shouldn’t smoke cigars, but if you do, you can do a lot worse than to start with the mild CAOs and Romeo Juliettas, before moving on to something with a richer taste and rougher kick, along the lines of Gloria Cubana or Excalibur. Don’t puff too quickly or it will burn too hot and alkalize, causing an unpleasant burn in your mouth; twice a minute is plenty. Ash the cigar only when it threatens to fall; long ashes are something for which to strive.

I have learned that, if you are wise enough to realize it, scarcely a day will pass in which you do not see the paltry fraction of human knowledge you will ever be privileged enough to come to understand. And yet that paltry fraction is so highly valuable and dear that a lifetime can be spent seeking it with happiness and fulfillment.

I have learned that you shouldn’t drink liquor, but if you do, drink the worst tequila, the best whisky, and recognize that the quality of your vodka is really of little consequence if you mix it with juice.

I have learned that the following things seem to be pretty wrong: objectivism (as it amounts to a tyranny of money), socialism (as it amounts to a tyranny of incompetence), and libertarianism (as it amounts to a tyranny of jackassery). In the end, the only thing that seems to be right is to follow your own conscience, rather than an artificially created philosophy.


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