August 18, 2020:

Professor Falstaff has a new accomplice.

A young History professor in her first job after grad school. Wicked bright, deeply unsure, without doubt disoriented and demoralized to discover that the University which employs her is an intellectual sinkhole. It's hard to imagine how any institution of ostensibly higher education could be farther from the expectations of a bright, serious young academic than the University of Redlands in 1980.

Which in her loneliness makes her the perfect target, victim, project and plaything for Professor Falstaff. From her perspective, who else is there?

With the arrogance of an elitism which they broadcast and telegraph and wave in plain sight like an ugly flapping dirty red flag they reject the University students they unmistakably distain, and with them much of the Johnston community they pretend to accept. They seem to live for each other. His motives are transparently hormonal, hers are ambiguous. Undoubtedly to her he's an island of conversation in the waste land of the University of Redlands, a colleague who at least does read books. But she's brilliant and must surely perceive he's an empty blowhard.

These two remind me inevitably of another pair: the older student with the habitually open mouth I gravitate toward for lack of options. Apart from him there's no-one. Two pairs, blowhard/Mark and blowhard/newbie lady, mirrors in our ways, or at least, reproducing a similar dynamic.