Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

On Clevinger: “Don’t be a dope…”

Joseph Heller well describes what we can call the academic’s paradox: all intelligence and no brains.

“Everyone agreed that Clevinger was certain to go far in the academic world. In short, Clevinger was one of those people with lots of intelligence and no brains and everyone knew it except those who soon found it out.

In short, he was a dope. He often looked to Yossarian like one of those people hanging around modern museums with both eyes together on one side of a face. It was an illusion, of course, generated by Clevinger’s predilection for staring fixedly at one side of a question and never seeing the other side at all…[Clevinger] was constantly defending his Communist friends to his right-wing enemies and his right-wing friends to his Communist enemies, and he was thoroughly detested by both groups…because they thought he was a dope.”

“He was a very serious, very earnest and very conscientious dope…[H]e was a militant idealist who crusaded against racial bigotry by growing faint in its presence. He knew everything about literature except how to enjoy it.”

“Yossarian tried to help him. ‘Don’t be a dope,’ he had counseled….”

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