The title to this post is taken from a translation we discussed today in my writing workshop, which I have written about here before none too rosily. The coleslaw wasn't intended to be wearing a seatbelt, of course, but this is the kind of thing that happens in the absence of punctuation and sensible line breaks. I don't intend to criticize the translation as a whole, actually; I only bring it up because in my half-crazed state of mind, as I waited eagerly for our last class session to end, this particular image struck me as plausibly symbolic for the way our class has gone this semester. The seatbelt is the safe harness of legitimacy surrounding the class -- the reputation of the university and the creative writing program, the rigorous-sounding title of the course, the vaunted credentials of the professor. The coleslaw is is the gloppy, disorganized, unglamorous, and totally unappealing reality inside the classroom, whose messy, sub-par reality -- one would hope -- cannot be held in place long despite the seatbelt's best efforts.
I hope my course evaluation, which I filled out as thoroughly as time constraints allowed at the conclusion of our class, will be part of the oozing to light of the past-date coleslaw of the workshop system at my university, but I doubt that this will be the case. I am not naive enough to think that a professor who has survived for decades presumably doing exactly what he has done in our class (teaching philosophy is closely enough tied to one's personal character that it rarely changes significantly over the years, I suspect) is likely to be ousted or even reprimanded thanks to a single scathing evaluation . And single it will be: I was surprised that I was the only student in the class apparently to take the evaluation seriously. The others rushed out of the room under a minute after receiving the form, except for the one student assigned to collect them all and take turn them in, so I then found myself in the position of having to make this student wait for me while I spent whole five minutes or so saying my piece about what a disappointment the class and its professor have been. I could have spent an hour, but for all the good it would have done, maybe it was a better use of my time to wrap up in short order and go meet up with the lovely person I care so very much more about than any of that nonsense.