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Index to The Happy Days Ahead

The Happy Days Ahead

By Robert A. Heinlein

previous page

528                            EXPANDED UNIVERSE

Courses satisfying "breadth" requirements

    Literature and Politics—political & moral choices in literature
    Philosophy of the Self
    Philosophy of History in the Prose and Poetry of W. B. Yeats Art and the Perceptual Process
    The Fortunes of Faust
    Science and the American Culture (satisfies both the Humanities requirement and the American History and Institutions requirement without teaching any science or any basic American History.  A companion course, Science and Pressure Politics, satisfies both the Social Sciences requirement and the American History and Institutions requirement while teaching still less; it concentrates on post-World-War-II period and concerns scientists as lobbyists and their own inter-

The Happy Days Ahead                           529

actions [rows] with Congress and the President. Highly recommended as a way to avoid learning American history or very much social "science.")
    American Country Music—Whee!  You don't play it, you listen.
    Man and the Cosmos—philosophy, sorta.  Not science.
    Science Fiction (I refrain from comment.)
    The Visual Arts—"What, if any, are the critical and artistic foundations for judgment in the visual arts?"—exact quotation from catalog.
    Mysticism—that's what it says.
    (The above list is incomplete.)

Natural Science requirement

    General Astronomy—no mathematics required
    Marine Biology—no mathematics required
    Sound, Music, and Tonal Properties of Musical Instruments—neither math nor music required for this one!
    Seminar.  Darwin's Explanation
    Mathematical Ideas—for nonmathematicians; requires only that high school math you must have to enter.
    The Phenomenon of Man—"—examine the question of whether there remains any meaning to human values." (Oh, the pity of it all!)
    Physical Geography: Climate

The Social "Sciences" requirement

    Any course in Anthropology—many have no prereq.
    Introduction to Art Education—You don't have to make art; you study how to teach it.
    Music and the Enlightenment—no technical knowledge of music required.  This is a discussion of the effect of music on philosophical, religious, and social ideas, late 18th-early 19th centuries.  That is what it says-and it counts as "social science."
    The Novel of Adultery—and this, too, counts as "so-

530                            EXPANDED UNIVERSE

cial science."  I don't mind anyone studying this subject or teaching it—but I object to its being done on my (your, our) tax money. (P.S. The same bloke teaches science fiction.  He doesn't write science fiction; I don't know what his qualifications are in this other field.)
    Human Sexuality
    Cultural Roots for Verbal and Visual Expression—a fancy name of still another "creative writing" class with frills—the students are taught how to draw out "other culture" pupils.  So it says.
    All the 30-odd "Community Studies" courses qualify as "social science," but I found myself awed by these two: Politics and Violence, which studies, among other things, "political assassination as sacrifice" and    Leisure and Recreation in the Urban Community ("Bread and Circuses").
    Again, listing must remain incomplete; I picked those below as intriguing:
    Seminar: Evil and the Devil in the Hindu Tradition.
    Science and Pressure Politics—already mentioned on page 529 as the course that qualifies both as social "science" and as American History and Institutions while teaching an utter minimum about each.  The blind man now has hold of the elephant's tail.
    The Political Socialization of la Raza—another double header, social "science" and American History and Institutions.  It covers greater time span (from 1900 rather than from 1945) but it's like comparing cheese and chalk to guess which one is narrower in scope in either category.

    The name of this game is to plan a course involving minimum effort and minimum learning while "earning" a degree under the rules of the nation's largest and most prestigious state university.
    To take care of "breadth" and also the American history your high school did not require I recommend Science and Pressure Politics, The Phenomenon of Man,

The Happy Days Ahead                           531

and American Country Music.  These three get you home free without learning any math, history, or language that you did not already know ... and without sullying your mind with science.
    You must pick a major ... but it must not involve mathematics, history, or actually being able to read a second language.  This rules out all natural sciences (this campus's greatest strength).
    Anthropology?  You would learn something in spite of yourself; you'd get interested.  Art?  Better not major in it without major talent.  Economics can be difficult, but also and worse, you may incline toward the Chicago or the Austrian school and not realize it until your (Keynesian or Marxist) instructor has failed you with a big black mark against your name.  Philosophy?  Easy and lots of fun and absolutely guaranteed not to teach you anything while loosening up your mind.  In more than twenty-five centuries of effort not one basic problem of philosophy has ever been solved ... but the efforts to solve them are most amusing.  The same goes for comparative religion as a major: You won't actually learn anything you can sink your teeth into ... but you'll be vastly entertained—if the Human Comedy entertains you.  It does me.
    Psychology, Sociology, Politics, and Community Studies involve not only risk of learning something—not much, but something—and each is likely to involve real work, tedious and lengthy.
    To play this game and win, with the highest score, it's Hobson's choice: American literature.  I assume that you did not have to take Bonehead English and that you can type.  In a school that has no school of education (UCSC has none) majoring in English Literature is the obvious way to loaf through four years.  It will be necessary to cater to the whims of professors who know no more than you do about anything that matters ... but catering to your mentors is necessary in any subject not ruled by mathematics.
Have you noticed that professors of English and/or

532                            EXPANDED UNIVERSE

American Literature are not expected to be proficient in the art they profess to teach?  Medicine is taught by M.D.'s on living patients, civil engineering is taught by men who in fact have built bridges that did not fall; law is taught by lawyers; music is taught by musicians; mathematics is taught by mathematicians—and so on.
    But is—for example—the American Novel taught by American novelists?
    Yes.  Occasionally.  But so seldom that the exceptions stand out.  John Barth.  John Erskine fifty years ago.  Several science-fiction writers almost all of whom were selling writers long before they took the King's Shilling.  A corporal's guard in our whole country out of battalions of English profs.
    For a Ph.D. in American/English literature a candidate is not expected to write literature; he is expected to criticize it.
    Can you imagine a man being awarded an M.D. for writing a criticism of some great physician without ever himself having learned to remove an appendix or to diagnose Herpes zoster?  And for that dissertation then be hired to teach therapy to medical students?
    There is, of course, a reason for this nonsense.  The rewards to a competent novelist are so much greater than the salaries of professors of English at even our top schools that once he/she learns this racket, teaching holds no charms.
    There are exceptions—successful storytellers who like to teach so well that they keep their jobs and write only during summers, vacations, evenings, weekends, sabbaticals.  I know a few—emphasis on "few." But most selling wordsmiths are lazy, contrary, and so opposed to any fixed regime that they will do anything—even meet a deadline—rather than accept a job.
    Most professors of English can't write publishable novels ... and many of them can't write nonfiction prose very well—certainly not with the style and distinction and grace—and content—of Professor of Biology Thomas H. Huxley.  Or Professor of Astronomy

The Happy Days Ahead                           533

Sir Fred Hoyle.  Or Professor of Physics John R. Pierce.  Most Professors of English get published, when they do, by university presses or in professional quarterlies.  But fight it out for cash against Playboy and Travis Magee?  They can't and they don't!
    But if you are careful not to rub their noses in this embarrassing fact and pay respectful attention to their opinions even about (ugh!) "creative writing," they will help you slide through to a painless baccalaureate.
    You still have time for many electives and will need them for your required hours-units-courses; here are some fun-filled ones that will teach you almost nothing:
    The Fortunes of Faust
    The Search for a New Life Style
    The American Dilemma—Are "all men equal"?[1]
    Enology—history, biology, and chemistry of wine-making and wine appreciation.  This one will teach you something but it's too good to miss.
    Western Occultism: Magic, Myth, and Heresy.
There is an entire college organized for fun and games ("aesthetic enrichment").  It offers courses for credit but you'll be able to afford noncredit activity as well in your lazyman's course—and anything can be turned into credit by some sincere selling to your adviser and/or Academic Committee.  I have already listed nine of its courses but must add:
    Popular Culture
—plus clubs or "guilds" for gardening, photography, film media, printing, pottery, silkscreening, orchestra, jazz, etc.
    Related are Theater Arts.  These courses give credit, including:
    Films of Fantasy and Imagination—fantasy, horror, SF, etc. (!)
    Seminar on Films
    History and Aesthetics of Silent Cinema

534                            EXPANDED UNIVERSE

    History and Aesthetics of Cinema since Sound
    Introduction to World Cinema
    Sitting and looking at movies can surely be justified for an English major.  Movies and television use writers-as little as possible, it's true.  But somewhat; the linkage is there.
    Enjoy yourself while it lasts.  These dinosaurs are on their way to extinction.

    The 2-year "warm body" campus[2] is even more lavish than UCSC.  It is a good trade school for some things—e.g., dental assistant.  But it offers a smörgåsbord of fun—Symbolism of the Tarot, Intermediate Contract Bridge, Folk Guitar, Quilting, Horseshoeing, Chinese Cooking, Hearst Castle Tours, Modern Jazz, Taoism, Hatha Yoga Asanas, Aikido, Polarity Therapy, Mime, Raku, Bicycling, Belly Dancing, Shiatsu Massage, Armenian Cuisine, Revelation and Prophecy, Cake Art, Life Insurance Sales Techniques, Sexuality and Spirituality, Home Bread Baking, Ecuadorian Backstrap Weaving, The Tao of Physics, and lots, lots  more!  One of the newest courses is "The Anthropology of Science Fiction" and I'm still trying to figure that out.
    I have no objection to any of this … but why should this kindergarten be paid for by taxes?  "Bread and Circuses."

    I first started noticing the decline of education through mail from readers.  I have saved mail from readers for forty years.  Shortly after World War Two I noticed that letters from the youngest were not written but hand-printed.  By the middle fifties deterioration in handwriting and in spelling became very noticeable.  By today a letter from a youngster in grammar school or in high school is usually difficult to read and sometimes illegible—penmanship atrocious

The Happy Days Ahead                           535

(pencilmanship—nine out ten often are in soft pencil, with well-smudged pages), spelling unique, grammar an arcane art.
    Most youngsters have not been taught how to fold 8½" by 11" paper for the two standard sizes of envelopes intended for that standard sheet.
    Then such defects began to show up among college students.  Apparently "Bonehead English" (taught everywhere today, so I hear) is not sufficient to repair the failure of grammar and high school teachers who themselves in most cases were not adequately taught.
    I saw sharply this progressive deterioration because part of my mail comes from abroad, especially Canada, the United Kingdom, the Scandinavian countries, and Japan.  A letter from any part of the Commonwealth is invariably neat, legible, grammatical, correct in spelling, and polite. [However, definitely not many of the ones from Canada I see today. —WHS]  The same applies to letters from Scandinavian countries. (Teenagers of Copenhagen usually speak and write English better than most teenagers of Santa Cruz.)  Letters from Japan are invariably neat-but the syntax is sometimes odd.  I have one young correspondent in Tokyo who has been writing steadily these past four years.  The hand-writing in the first letter was almost stylebook perfect but I could hardly understand the phrasing; now, four years later, the handwriting looks the same but command of grammar, syntax, and rhetoric is excellent, with only an occasional odd choice in wording giving an exotic flavor.
    Our public schools no longer give good value.  We remain strong in science and engineering but even students in those subjects are handicapped by failures of our primary and secondary schools and by cutback in funding of research both public and private.  Our great decline in education is alone enough to destroy this country ... but I offer no solutions because the only solutions I think would work are so drastic as to be incredible.


Continued...  The Age of Unreason

On the pages that were skipped in my comments [p. 536 - 544] Robert A. Heinlein offers comments on:

  • Span of time—Decline of Patriotism and in the Quality of our Armed Forces [p. 536]
  • Span of Time—Today in the Armed Forces [p. 537]
  • Time Span—Inflation

  1. Today, if you were to check the syllabus of the USSC, or for that matter that of any other university or college, you would find that the term "men" has been replaced with "humans" or more likely with the even more politically-correct "people", because the forces that are changing our societies are attempting to purge the English language of any vestiges of sex-discrimination (they even insists that it shouldn't be called sex-discrimination any longer but that it be called "gender-discrimination").  Their aim is to eliminate and and all terms that contain the syllable "man".
  2. On page 523 Heinlein provides a definition of "warm body" campus.

"…a State University system with lower entrance requirements, and this is paralleled by local junior colleges (never called "junior") that accept any warm body," [that parallels the "tough school" of the University of California (all campuses)].

See also:

Feminism For Male College Students — A Short Guide to the Truth, by Angry Harry (Off-Site)

2001 02 02 (format changes)
2006 03 04 (added link to Feminism for Male College Students)