“My Higher Education: Recollected After Viewing Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman,” by Mike Fowler

Sep 30th, 2020 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

I began my Shakespeare studies under Professor Alfred Wainscot at the University of Cincinnati in 1982. Dr. Wainscot had recently published his groundbreaking study of the Bard’s so-called problem plays, with special attention to the deformed Greek Thersites in Troilus and Cressida. A month after handing out our freshman class syllabus, he was found face down in the Ohio River near the Serpentine Wall in Cincinnati, his body riddled with .45 cartridges and a cinderblock tired around his neck. He was identified, even so, by his alert look.

My introduction to philosophy began auspiciously under Professor Margaret Atkins, BA Cambridge University, whose criticism of moral theory was a revelation to me in my sophomore year, deconstructing the widely held goody-two- shoes theory of ethics. In May 1984, a headline appeared in Cincinnati’s The News Record honoring Dr. Atkins as the most published professor at the University of Cincinnati. In July her charred and unrecognizable remains were scooped from her incinerated Volvo near her favorite bar in Cincinnati’s trendy Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. It was here she liked to drink and philosophize with students, often picking up the tab for those whose GPAs exceeded 3.25.

While I struggled to decide between mathematics and physics for my science credit, I was fortunate to enroll in an astrophysics class taught by standby astronaut Dr. Orville Ozman, who had studied under Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman at Caltech. Dr. Morris, or Oz as he liked to be called, would sometimes solve a quadratic equation using Newtonian fluxions instead of the modern Leibnizian symbols, much to the amusement of my classmates and myself. The day after he introduced to our class his new teaching assistant, Tony the Mongrel, the good doctor was abducted from his office and sewn up inside a burlap sack along with a raccoon, a dog, a rattlesnake, a pig, six squirrels, an alligator and a scorpion. The active parcel was then deposited in a campus parking lot. Nearby the lethal sack stood his trademark Saab, all four tires slashed to the rims.

My introduction to logic took place at the well-developed hands of Professor Mark Spinter, who was not only a world-class logician but also played quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. After a particularly bad football season, Dr. Spinter’s body was found eviscerated and limbless courtesy of the Bengal tiger in the Safari section of the first-rate Cincinnati Zoo.

It was Professor Arthur Dimitri who, in my junior year, outlined the functions of the human mind so concisely that one felt his main thesis explode in one’s mind: consciousness had to be an illusion. When his conclusions were published in Mind, we partied with him all night. The next morning his body was found across the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky, in the street outside a strip club. His tongue was pulled from his mouth just far enough that it could be stapled to his chin, and his stomach bulged from being pumped full of pasta Alfredo, roughly five pounds of it. Also, his beard had been glued to his shirt collar.

In Art History I benefited from Professor Thad Miles, an expert on ancient Greece who came to UC in 1985 with carousels of slides depicting Doric columns and headless statues from his summer on the Aegean. In 1986 he was found headless in a utility closet in the basement of the student center. In his jacket pocket were a pair of severed hands, not his own, and not marble. In the right hand, the severed one, was a crumpled note, in his handwriting. It read, “Luigi, I’ll have your money on Friday, I promise.”

When in my junior year I discovered Jane Austen, my life changed forever. What concision, what wit! What recreation of the nineteenth century English patriarchy! Professor Anita Arnsberg, at age 24, had already received her doctorate in English Literature from the University of Chicago in 1985. She came to the University of Cincinnati the following year, and in 1987 her pale body, completely drained of blood but otherwise intact, was found propped up in place of a mannequin in a Macy’s near her former residence, appropriately in the plus-size section. But the body wore a furry halter top and a pair of cheap vinyl pumps the professor would never in her life have owned.


Defenestration-Michael Fowler

Mike Fowler has been in Defenestration so many times he practically owns stock in the magazine. And by stock, of course, we mean delicious waffles. He’s all about self-promotion these days, so go buy his book.

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