Courses satisfying "breadth" requirements
Literature and Politicspolitical &
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
actions [rows] with Congress and the President. Highly recommended as a
way to avoid learning American history or very much social "science.")
American Country MusicWhee! You don't play it, you
Man and the Cosmosphilosophy, 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
Mysticismthat's what it says.
(The above list is incomplete.)
Natural Science requirement
General Astronomyno mathematics required
Marine Biologyno mathematics required
Sound, Music, and Tonal Properties of Musical Instrumentsneither
math nor music required for this one!
Seminar. Darwin's Explanation
Mathematical Ideasfor 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"
Any course in Anthropologymany have no
Introduction to Art EducationYou don't have to make art;
you study how to teach it.
Music and the Enlightenmentno 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 Adulteryand this, too, counts as "so-
cial science." I don't mind anyone studying this subject or
teaching itbut 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.)
Cultural Roots for Verbal and Visual Expressiona fancy
name of still another "creative writing" class with frillsthe 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
Again, listing must remain incomplete; I picked those below as
Seminar: Evil and the Devil in the Hindu Tradition.
Science and Pressure Politicsalready 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 Razaanother 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
The Happy Days Ahead
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 entertainedif the Human Comedy entertains
you. It does me.
Psychology, Sociology, Politics, and Community Studies involve not only
risk of learning somethingnot much, but somethingand 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
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 mathematiciansand so
But isfor examplethe American Novel taught by American
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
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 exceptionssuccessful storytellers who like to
teach so well that they keep their jobs and write only during summers, vacations,
evenings, weekends, sabbaticals. I know a fewemphasis on "few." But
most selling wordsmiths are lazy, contrary, and so opposed to any fixed regime that they
will do anythingeven meet a deadlinerather than accept a job.
Most professors of English can't write publishable novels ...
and many of them can't write nonfiction prose very wellcertainly not with the style
and distinction and graceand contentof Professor of Biology Thomas H.
Huxley. Or Professor of Astronomy
The Happy Days Ahead
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
The Fortunes of Faust
The Search for a New Life Style
The American DilemmaAre "all men equal"?
Enologyhistory, 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 courseand 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:
plus clubs or "guilds" for gardening, photography, film media, printing,
pottery, silkscreening, orchestra, jazz, etc.
Related are Theater Arts. These courses give credit,
Films of Fantasy and Imaginationfantasy, horror, SF, etc.
Seminar on Films
History and Aesthetics of Silent Cinema
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
The 2-year "warm body" campus is even more lavish than UCSC. It is a good trade school
for some thingse.g., dental assistant. But it offers a smörgåsbord of
funSymbolism 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 illegiblepenmanship
The Happy Days Ahead
(pencilmanshipnine 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.
The Age of Unreason