Eagle and flag

Me, 1951 PhD NOT TO BE
Me, likely 1951. Photo (& all from my youth): courtesy of my mother, Eloise Bebout


An American

(Short of Yale)

The initial inspiration for this piece was another I began in early 2001: a look at questions of citizenship, rights, public space, and mass consumer culture as seen through the writings of Mark Kingwell, pundit and professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. This was meant as a look at my own education in light of Mark's -- his including Yale, hence the subtitle here.

I never did finish that piece. (Nor those thoughts -- though I do plan to get back to them, if not Mark, later on.) This one now stands on its own: a sort of postscript (if in fact prelude) to my memoir Promiscuous Affections: A Life in The Bar, a work I first put online in January 2000.

That opens in 1969, when I came to Canada. This is about what came before, setting some context for my life since -- even, if vaguely, my life in The Bar.

Rick Bébout, October 2001

At a small party in the early 1980s in my friend Michael Lynch's back garden, I looked around our gaggle of passionate gay (and AIDS) activists, a few in town from elsewhere, and made an odd mental note.

Nearly everyone there had a Ph D.

I have other friends free to be "Dr" when they choose, if not often bothering. They have great rafts of history and literature on tap at a moment's inspiration. There were times I could suspect them a bit show off, erudite simply for the sake of it. I've come to see that they do it, when they do, out of love -- of language, thought; richly varied perceptions over a very long time.

And such friends do come in handy. They keep me mindful of just how much I do not know. My own intellectual rafts can float far, if on seas sometimes too shallow. I never got even a BA.

But I don't regret it: my lack of formal education turned out lucky. It has let me see the world -- even, perhaps especially, the world of thought, of true citizenship -- in distinct and useful ways. (If not, as this may begin to sound, anti intellectual ones.)

So, here, I ponder my own education.

A bit of it appears in the first chapter of Promiscuous Affections: A Life in The Bar. But I hadn't intended autobiography there, more a look -- from a distinct perspective, my own, and Canadian -- at a crucial if extended historical moment, particularly for people like me: 1969 to 2000.

When it began I was 19. So I didn't say much there about growing up, maybe 1,500 words out of some 300,000. A few tales here reiterate some in that much bigger memoir, if much more fully told: this is, unabashedly, autobiography. And a very American one.

Chapters are listed below. They are in more or less chronological order, at the end of each a link to the next. Also here: Punditry: At seventeen -- columns I wrote for the local paper when I was in high school.

Ayer, Massachusetts
Old New England (if not quite)
Appx 2,600 words / 5 images / 59 Kb total

Local gentry
In the land of noblesse oblige
Appx 1,900 words / 8 images / 80 Kb total

Primary, secondary; public -- & exemplary
Appx 4,400 words / 15 images / 152 Kb total

Partisan; & the politics of education
Appx 2,500 words / 8 images / 84 Kb total

Higher education (yeah, sure)
Appx 1,700 words / 6 images / 68 Kb total

Real politics
In Cold War America
Appx 1,500 words / 7 images / 83 Kb total

Leaving America
And laying America to rest
Appx 4,100 words / 14 images / 173 Kb total

Punditry: At seventeen
Ten columns from The Public Spirit, Ayer, 1967
Intro & 5 files / Appx 10,000 words / 1 image / 90 Kb total

Begin An American Education

Go to Promiscuous Affections: A Life in The Bar, 1969-2000
Go back to My home page

This page: http://www.rbebout.com/me/me.htm
February 2001 / Last revised: October 3, 2001
Rick Bébout © 2001 / rick@rbebout.com