Many interesting events have taken place on March 5 in previous years. For example, in 1920 a multitude of families requested from the U.S. Government to accept their sons in the army, so that they could receive the quality education they could not otherwise afford. (Source)
This year, in recognition of the perpetual buzz around the "college education" subject, OneWomanMedia offers you a Georgevine Moss postgraduate-related short story.
Warning: R-rated for language.
by Georgevine Moss
“We want your money, your brain, your soul. Study hard, work harder. Then we might consider accepting you into our program.”
“Study hard, work harder”. That was the credo young Nathan had been trying to adhere to until the age of twenty-five. Then he was accepted into the North of Nowhere University, in the Social Finance Studies Department, and he no longer had to think about it.
Studying the application of econometrics in fine arts was a waste of time, money and youth, but when no one else wants you, you’ve got to go with those that do. That was the theory Nathan had constructed and began abiding to from the age of twenty, a time when he had been rejected by every university he had applied to—even the liberal art wacky new departments that had started springing up like lotuses in the middle of hell’s toxic garden—a time when young Nathan had managed to reach the lowest of lows one could have ever reached by the age of twenty, and didn’t work in show business.
After six months of intense courses in finance, Nathaniel Gregory Dayton had another six months to finish his research and present his findings in a twenty thousand-word document by the second week of July. His topic could not be merely financial, of course. It also had to match his department’s name, and thus use econometrics to study a topic with at least some connection to the arts. And so Nathan G. Dayton had found himself waiting at New Horizon prison’s visiting room.
His topic? “What Factors Could Drive a Sculptor Honoree and Prominent Professor to Murder his Manager?”
Nathan was staring at his blurry image bouncing off the polished floor when the buzzer sounded. Metals clanged and men of various ages trampled in the room as if there was a cockroach per step quota: every ten cockroaches one extra minute of daytime TV.
The man walking toward him wasn’t too tall, or too old. He wasn’t too sad, or too bothered. He was an average man; discontent but coping, nothing-to-gawk-at but self-righteous. He was a professor—well, a former one anyway.
The professor sat in the stripped metal chair facing Daniel, laid-back as if he were sitting in the Eames lounge chair at the dean’s office. “Getting in a university is like checking into a hotel, kid,” he said. “No matter how much you pay, you’ll always be considered a guest.” He paused. “They are doing you a favor.”
Nathan sat next to this professor-turned-murderer looking apathetic as a statue. He was, unconsciously, sitting not too close but not so far away as to feel safe either, in case the professor decided to hurt him, for a reason to be determined by a poor man’s soul seeking graduation sometime in the future…For that reason alone, Nathan decided it was best to keep his mouth shut.
“For the right price, they’ll give you what you need. Basic law: supply and demand,” the professor said, encouraged by the silence. “They are the suppliers. You are…fish in a tank. They give you food, you eat. They tap on the glass, you swim fast to see what they got for you and what do you do when they just start laughing in your face? You watch.” He sprung up and leaned his wide—yet fixed into a miserable bent—shoulders toward Nathan. “Society is your tank, kid. You swim until they fish you out. But, see, fish are lucky. They get picked out of the tank, they die. You get picked and you’re just getting thrown into another tank. You are not lucky, kid. So, why don’t you do yourself a favor and go away.”
“Very poignant, professor. I see all those years of teaching turned you from a young enthusiastic asshole into an old sad fuck.” Nathan said, his inner voice already screaming at him, all squeaky. “You just couldn’t keep your mouth shut, could you?” it said, reminding him of his mother.
All of a sudden, the professor started looking like an inmate in a state prison. “You think you know better, kid? You disapprove of my theory?” he said.
“On the contrary, professor,” Nathan said. “I fully approve. However, in order for me to accept your theory I need you to back it up with evidence. You know? Let me help you. The fish is your depended variable, the tank an independent variable. You figure out the other ones, OK?” he said and waited, his inner voice still there, but weakened.
“You think you are smart, don’t you, kid? What, because you’ll soon have a post graduate degree? I have one of those too. Get a job and then let’s see how smart you’ll feel,” the professor said. He leaned back in his imaginary Eames chair, displaying his priggish smirk with shameless pride.
“OK, but I’ll still need you to provide evidence to accept your theory even if you’re proven right. And, come to think of it, it won’t be that easy, professor, because not all fish are equal, are they? It all depends on what kind of fish one is, right?” Nathan said and knew it was over. The voice had lost. Nathan had just begun.
“Don’t sweat it, kid. Shark or sweet-fucking-Nemo, you run when you see them, you eat what they give you. That’s it,” the professor said, his prudish ass smirk wiped off his face.
“I’d like to debate you, professor, but time is up. Tomorrow maybe.”
Passing through the university gates felt like going back into that visiting room, minus the very personal body search. Nathan took a moment to ponder this sad realization, and then went on his merry studying way. Day one was over.
On day two nothing had changed. The professor was still an asshole and Nathan was still at a loss of how to carry out the econometrics part of his project—oh, why couldn’t he have picked an easy topic, say for example, “What Factors Drive the WTI Oil Price?”—he had, however, finished writing up half of his dissertation and his counselor was past from being encouraging and close to being congratulatory.
“They wanted me to make two sculptures,” the professor said. “One of presidential candidate A, and one of presidential candidate B.” He paused and waited for Nathan to take his seat.
Nathan hadn’t even managed to say hello before this statement was so eloquently verbalized. He sat down and shook his head in response.
“Of the same party, of course,” the professor said. “They were paying big money too, both of them, out of their own private sponsors’ pockets.”
Contrary to what one might have thought by looking at him, Nathan was awake. “Did you take the job?” he said, looking as interested as ever.
“In what world do you live in, kid?” He chuckled. “Did I take the job?” he said, his eyes lost in a stare of no specific direction, his head bobbing back in two consecutive chuckles with a one second pause in between.
“My mistake professor,” Nathan said with all the seriousness he could muster. “First question: Did you believe in the candidate’s core values and program? Second question: “Did you take the job?”
“No, my mistake, kid. I just assumed you had a brain. Of course I took the job.”
”So you compromised.”
“My sculpture of candidate A was said candidate bending over the oval office—to pick up the phone, I told them,” the professor said, winking at Nathan. “The sculpture of candidate B depicted said candidate holding the oval office phone. See, he had gotten to it first. That was all I was trying to say.”
Without any warning a buzzer resounded in the room, signaling the end of Nathan’s visit. But to Nathan it sounded like Satan’s horn to wake up the dead for their 100th celebratory round of torture. Day two was over and he had to leave with a full but useless notepad. Oh well, maybe he could use this information to create a dummy variable.
On day three, Nathan decided to take control. Time was slipping by, and his counselor seemed to be happier now, after what seemed to be a persistent shock of self-disappointment. He just couldn’t risk losing riding on this momentum.
“As interesting as our little chats might be professor, I’ve only a couple of weeks left. So I need to ask. I have only three questions. You can be brief—I’ve already covered ten thousand words discussing previous literature…add the econometrics test results, and I’m pretty much done.”
“Right. They did teach you something after all, eh kid?”
Nathan ignored the professor’s comment and cut to the chase. “What were the three most significant—in your opinion—events prior to the murder?”
“Had a bad lunch. Had a call from my manager informing me that my presidential candidate commissioned work was canceled. My manager came over at my place to check on my work for the second time in a week.”
“Prior to committing the murder, would you say that you were tired of teaching? Bored of making sculptures on commission? Anything aggravated you more than usual?”
“All of the above.”
“What was your first thought after the murder had taken place?”
“My sculpture is a fucking masterpiece, it was worth it.”
The Health and Passion (for art) variables were found statistically significant at the 10% significance level. Current financial condition was statistically insignificant, and major emotional events (victim sleeping with professor’s daughter ) was significant at the 1% level.
Conclusion and Recommendations
This study was based on qualitative data, facing a number of limitations as described in section 3.1. The empirical results are partly confirmed by the court verdict, which deemed the defendant guilty of first degree murder. According to the court and the jury, the professor’s actions did not signify a passionate crime, the defendant was not under any influence and wasn’t in any way temporarily insane. According to the empirical results of this study, the emotional event was the most significant factor of the actions of the professor. These results, as presented above, could be further analyzed in future studies by utilizing data extracted from the professor’s psychiatric evaluations during his imprisonment.
It should be noted that the professor’s last piece of work, the life-size sculpture of a man about to fall on the ground while grasping his groin, crafted in such detail reminiscent of Ron Mueck’s work, was exhibited soon after the event at the Modern Age Gallery, where it was visited by more than six million people and garnered numerous praising reviews. It was later auctioned and sold for fifteen million dollars to an anonymous collector.
North of Nowhere Alumni Newsletter
Nathan G. Dayton graduated with honors on July 2008. After trying to get a job in finance, he decided to study some more in order to pass the preliminary evaluation test of a major consulting company and go through a set of three rounds of interviews, just like he did in his search for a higher degree—this time in hope of a higher salary. He made it to Round Two, just on his first try. He is still unemployed.