Some recent airplane reading turned up yet another unflattering description of a professor (art history, in this case):
".. a mild, rather mousy man, who for some reason invariably evoked the pity of students. It was not that they disliked him.. they just felt a vague, inexpressible regret that he existed.." (Love Over Scotland, Alexander McCall Smith, p. 1)
Ouch. This professor does not dress well and is passionate about obscure things.
It may well be that some students (and others) pity me, not so much for my unstylishness (although there may be an element of that) as for my fascination with obscure things, as if a deep focus on an academic topic means you don't have "a life". It's very true that I don't have as many hobbies as some people, but I love my research and I feel quite content with my current balance between work and family and other fun things in life (friends, travel, gardens, cats, reading, writing). So, bring on the pity and inexpressible regret -- the professorial existence can be very fun, however obscure your research topic.
(note: I enjoyed the book, even though I was slightly sedated by dramamine when I read it on a recent long flight)
12 years ago