While outlining the requirements for our first critical essay of the
term, I notice a hand rising in world-historical time at the back of
the classroom.

“What if I’m ideologically opposed to revision?” asks the red-
headed boy in a “New Slaves” t-shirt.

A city bus unloads its pageantry outside the window. A handful of
sparrows erupts from the equestrian statue on the quad. I remember
Sun Tzu’s advice to humanities instructors, which I review on
index cards at the outset of each academic quarter.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

“What exactly is your ideology?” I ask, stroking my beard.

“I’m a Zen Naxalite crypto-Objectivist,” replies my interlocutor.
“How about you?”

I have no choice but to improvise. “Pro-recycling, anti-genocide?”

A voice from beyond my peripheral vision says, “You’re nothing
but a pseudo-Kantian neoliberal mirage with meta-narcissistic

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I'm not.”

“Yes. You are.”