17 May 2009

Letter to a Professor

Well, of course, we need (and should be getting) help from many points of view to prevent me being prevented from contributing on an adequate scale (or, indeed, any scale at all) to the many areas now regarded as ‘academic’. Urgent though those needs are, please do not lose sight of the fact that my most urgent priority is still to get started on my 40-year academic career within a socially accredited university. I have explained to you how I was prevented in doing this by hostility and opposition when I was first thrown out by Somerville half a century ago.

The passage of 50 years makes it not less, but exponentially more, urgent, to get started immediately.

The same is true of some of my associates; the reason we are not applying for Professorships on their behalf at present is our extreme shortage of manpower, which is far below the minimum necessary for the very smallest residential college.

As a person who has everything in life from the lack of which everyone here is suffering so badly, academic status, salary, opportunity to contribute and direct work in several areas, and who knows about a person in a state of grievous deprivation, who has been prevented for fifty years from getting started on the career they need to have, you should recognise an obligation to help me in every way possible to get into the position out of which I was cheated by the hostility aroused by my ability.

Now I know that as an agent and beneficiary of the oppressive society you do not wish to do anything against the collective will of that society, like everyone else from whom I have sought help and not obtained it, and often received active opposition instead.

Nevertheless it is possible to envisage an ought which is not recognised by the society in which one finds oneself living, and both I and the others who are here with me think that you should feel an obligation to give help to me/us, and should act upon it.