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  • Arthur Bacon

The Man Who Failed to Learn

In the New York Times, I read about Dr. Benjamin Bolger, arguably one of the world’s most “educated” human beings, with about 16 master’s degrees and one doctorate. Joseph Bernstein writes a good article but it is short on opprobrium because spending one’s life in a classroom is a fool’s errand. And, if the guy is so brilliant, why doesn’t he have a dyed-in-the-wool PhD rather than a pitiable doctorate … in design no less. Two or three of his master’s degrees are in the same subject. WTF? This all begs the question; why do so many schools let this guy in to take up space that could be better used by more serious students? He says he “loves to learn”. Well, then learn for Christ’s sake. A painter who loves to paint, paints; he doesn’t keep taking classes in color theory, perspective, portraiture and landscape. He fucking paints!


Not a single man/woman of letters that I have heard of has such a resume of academic tourism. Of course, they all went to college, perhaps went on to earn a PhD, and then lived life and learned through reading, cogitation and experience to eventually becoming, like Henry Thoreau, Jacques Barzun, Joseph Campbell, Bertrand Russell and Susan Sontag, revered thinkers. Bolger is like the fellow Ben Franklin knew who was so well-educated at Harvard that he could name a horse in six languages. When he graduated, he bought a cow to ride on. Clearly, he has not entertained an original thought his entire life. Bolger now runs a college-admissions consulting firm. Pay him 100 grand and he will get your snotty little, rich brat into Harvard. 


I love academia but a degree from an Ivy League university don’t necessarily mean you’re smart. Look at Yalies Ted Cruz, J.D. Vance and Brett Cavanaugh. Look at Elise Stefanik from Harvard. How about Donald Trump with his Wharton School diploma? These are not intellectually interesting people. 


Mr. Bolger exudes the happiness of the idiot. Look at him in a million of his self-portraits (http://www.benbolger.com/photos.html) with him cozying up to famous people (that alone is highly suspicious). “There’s no art to read the mind’s construction in the face”. This man has an anodyne face. There is nothing there because he has not been punched, knocked down or experienced failure. His entire life has been vicarious superfluity. With all that book learnin he probably isn’t capable of an original thought.  I’ll bet $100 that when he has a flat tire, he calls AAA. I’ll bet that he doesn’t know what to do when the toilet is overflowing. He sure as hell cannot back up a big U-Haul truck.


I play pool with a bunch of guys who never even graduated from high school. They may not know who painted “Christina’s World” or recognize Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony but at least they believe in vaccines. 

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