I went to study with Professor Plotz at the Academy because of his great genius and many smart books. On the exam he asked the question. I studied with due degree of self-discipline and mortification of my desire for fun and sleep. On the day of the exam I looked at the exam paper. It bore a single quiniverb, or five-word sentence.
WHY IS THE CHILD WORTHWHILE?
And I answered it covering fifteen blue-books and taking all of the allotted eighty-five hours. The burden of my exam answer was the thesis”The child is worthwhile because it makes a positive impact.”
Professor Plotz failed me. I went to his office hours.
“Why did you fail me?”
“Your answer was incorrect. ”
“How so, Professor?”
“It does not apply to the child who does not make a positive impact.”
“But is that child worthwhile?”
“Yes, Eric.” said the Professor. “That child is very worthwhile.”
“But what if it is the crappy child?” I asked. “What about the bad child or the child, discussed by Fischer and Shaffer in their Book “Fundamentals of The Child” who craps its pants?”
“It is worthwhile.”
It was a paradox I was eager to unravel. I devoted myself to reading all the paradoxical writing of Professor John Plotz, from his early essay “The Worth of Every Child” to his monumental tome “Why One Should Love the Child”. I wrote a lengthy dissertation citing him and his critics and his critics’ critics’ and the critics of his critic’s critic’s. I handed it in. It was called “The Child is Worthwhile Because the Child is Good”.
“No, no, no.” said the Professor in office hours poring over a draft. “You have gone off the rails! What if the child is not good?”
“Or not good yet?” I asked tentatively.
“Or not good yet.”
I suddenly got his message. I dropped out of the academy and went to a faraway city where I got a job typing documents for the legal firm of Adenauer, Crevasse, Embowel and Dour and spent the next ten years in penance.
The Professor now very old came to town to give a talk. Ashamed I crept to the back of the room. Afterwards he remembered me.
“What happened to you?”
“I realized your message.” I said. “I am not worthwhile. I am the child who is not worthwhile, because I am unable to see the profundity of your teaching.”
“That is totally wrong.” said the Professor with a sigh. “You are worthwhile.”
“How is that possible?”
“How do I know, Professor?”
He looked at me and who knows what thoughts were burbling up from his carunculated cerebrum? One might as lief speculate what manner of sea-kraken or ocean-going manta-squid of the depths ripples the surface of the deep.
The man spoke.
Responded I: “Okay.”
And I returned to the world of men. Although he was very old and I had become extremely fat, the Professor carried me on his back on our return journey to the institute. Perhaps it was some form of penance, I’m not sure. As he carried me I heard him mutter to himself “They don’t pay me enough for this.”