The Ladybug and The Professor

The Professor was the director of the archaeological department at the New Bulgarian University. At first, I thought The Professor OK, he professed all these values and stuff, but if you looked closer you would see how he contradicted them. Sometimes you  didn’t even need to look closely to see that there’s something fishy going on. For the times it was obvious he apologized, but for the other occasions, he pretended that there’s nothing wrong (maybe he thought there really wasn’t anything wrong?).

So, one beautiful day I made a presentation about Göbekli Tepe (an archaeological site in the Near East) in a lecture that the Professor was teaching. He told me something of the sort that he liked it very much and that with materials from my lecture I and Ladybug (together with materials from her?) can make one joint presentation on a broader subject to give to a broader audience in some other course the Professor was having. I was a little leery because very little of what the people at the university promised came to fruition, the other fact being Ladybug’s suspicious morale, but I agreed.

Time passed, but there was no further talk about supposed “joint operation” – something made me remember it, though. There was some talk on the topic of Göbekli Tepe on another lecture later that year and as we were talking Ladybug was looking at some images on her computer, images from a presentation she had made. As she was scrolling past them an image from my presentation appeared and when Ladybug realised I maybe looking at the same thing it took her only seconds to nervously close her presentation (obviously in the hopes of me not realizing). The image had a bad resolution which often happens when you copy a slide with an image from another presentation. I had given links to the sources for my presentation at the end of it, so I thought it funny that they haven’t even gone through the effort of using them. The resources were free to use, but once I had given my presentation to The Professor he had absolutely no right to give it to another student, or use it, without asking me first. So it kind of got me thinking what gave them the right to do whatever the hell they want. Was it stupidity, divine rights, academic prestige, or just clean arrogance?

Whatever it was allowing for special rights to be given to students, and allowing for some select body of students to have some academic advantages is definitely not the way to go, not in the 21st century at least. I’m sure with communism things were different, but may, for them they stayed the same. I have this all-encompassing theory that you can explain every stupid mistake  a person makes with communism, but does stupidity need an academic figure or a political ideology?

P.S. Of course, it’s not stupid if people never find about it.

Two fingers

The score from thesis defense came out wrong, or at least, different from what I heard it was at the event. I went to the university to speak with Slayer to see what was wrong and why did it change. I was starting to believe that I have misheard what my score actually was and that it had truly been lower than what I expected. When I walked into the office of the archaeology department I greeted the people that were present, which were Sonya and Slayer. I approached Slayer with my question and while I was talking to him, he was squinting his eyes and seemed to be very focused on my face, as if there was very small bug crawling on my face that he was trying to discern. This thing on my face seemed to interest him more than my questions and Slayer answered that he didn’t remember what my score was and that he would have to talk with The Professor about that. I said that I understand and bid them farewell.

“Two fingers”, said Slayer to Sonya, as I was closing the door.  Assuming there was no previous conversation between them, and his intent stare, Slayer could have only been talking about some feature of my face, in a language that Slayer thought, only he and Sonya could understand (telepathy, maybe?). Well, it would have been a secret language if it wasn’t Bulgarian. I was pretty used to thinking of people talking ill about me in my absence but found the action of people speaking right in front of me, in what they thought was a secret language extremely hypocritical. That was funny because I’ve always had only respect for Slayer and Sonya (although I didn’t receive a single e-mail  for any event from my department from Sonya during my first two years of study, and I know she had it) and until that moment they have been one of the few people that haven’t tried to quite intentionally step on my head.

I think this was the moment when I fully realized the degree of hypocrisy my teachers were capable of and that I really wasn’t welcomed there.

The Couple

It was late evening and as I was walking to the subway station I caught up with a boy and a girl that were also heading the same way. We entered the station and they stopped at the place where the tickets were checked. They hugged and during their farewell conversation the boy repeated “we should see each other again” unknowingly a couple of times.

I guess he was nervous…

Schneewittchen

Schneewittchen was the supervisor for my bachelor thesis at the New Bulgarian University. At first, I didn’t want Schneewittchen to be my supervisor because there was something off-putting about him. A lot of people thought  he was gay, but I thought that’s none of my concern. Still, a lot of things bothered me.

I had a presentation on the Late Bronze Age metal hoards in Bulgaria, and I guess I was moving my slides too fast when Schneewittchen was talking about them, so he snapped back at me. I thought okay, Schneewittchen doesn’t like to be interrupted or absentmindedness, so I modified my behaviour as much as I could. After that, we had more lectures and during one, I made a very courteous comment, without interrupting him  that he has missed an important point on the subject. Schneewittchen was furious saying “Yes, Martin and why is that?!” with a loud tone and an angry stare. That’s when I knew the problem wasn’t in me.

Later on, he would still snap back whenever his intellectual prowess is being called into question (although that wasn’t anyone’s purpose). I let the snapping back slide hoping (maybe?) that it will disappear with time.  Or maybe it was like the relationship that a man and a woman develop when a man beats his wife, and with time both assume that beating and being beaten is normal.

Summer came, and of course,  it was time go on excavations at Bresto. I wasn’t overly exuberant to go because the last year’s excavations had been a total disaster, still I had many friends (or at least, some) there, so I decided to go. Last year’s nastiest workers (“workers”) were missing, so for the first time on the excavations I didn’t have a problem with anybody (or so I thought).

There was a small break during the excavation, on which we were bound to visit of Bulgaria’s most interesting archaeological sites. During the break, when we were at the museum of Stara Zagora  Schneewittchen called me to speak with me privately, and he told me this, and I do quote: “Don’t stray away from the others because that way you look smarter than the others. You are definitely not smarter than the other students. You are ill-mannered. You can only watch and marvel at the others.” What Schneewittchen said was actually a little bit longer, but it gets uglier further on, so I decided to shorten it a bit. His “logic” was funny, though, when your professor (he isn’t a professor, or a “fossil” yet) tells you’re stupid and ill-mannered up front, he’s supposed to be smart and well-behaved? I also found it strange because I would’ve expected what he said to come more out of a vein woman than a man.I have noticed that his actions and arguments are not of the most reasoned type before, but I guess I chose to ignore it to some extent. When Katya asked Schneewittchen why was he paying the restorators – two girls that were mostly drawing childish pictures during  their stay at the excavations, while the most of us were working our asses off (not me, of course), he answered “You know, they have Master’s degree and so forth,” which was in no way explaining why he paid them. I later found that one of the restorators was the daughter of an archaeologist and a close friend of Schneewittchen’s. Well, what do you know! I discovered warm water. But I shouldn’t have been surprised because these things were common practice in Bulgaria. As for his arguments, the most recent I can recall was when he tried to explain to me what sections in archaeological drawings are by using the Vitruvian man as an example. The Vitruvian man had nothing to do with sections (Leonardo da Vinci drew a lot of sections of human corpses by the way), but it must’ve seen like a section to his unconditioned mind. The funniest thing about it was that one of the restorators was standing by him and didn’t seem to care about the badly used example – surely it must have bothered her, considering her education in The National Academy of Arts?  I guess that’s what they call “groupthink”. Schneewittchen also liked to string a bunch of arguments that had no logical connection between them to come to a conclusion.

I have noticed that his actions and arguments are not of the most reasoned type before, but I guess  I chose to ignore them to some extent. When Katya asked Schneewittchen why was he paying the restorators – two girls that were mostly drawing childish pictures during  their stay at the excavations, while the most of us were working our asses off (not me, of course), he answered “You know, they have Master’s degree and so forth,” which was in no way explaining why he paid them. I later found that one of the restorators was the daughter of an archaeologist and a close friend of Schneewittchen’s. Well, what do you know! I discovered warm water. But I shouldn’t have been surprised because these things were common practice in Bulgaria. As for his arguments, the most recent I can recall was when he tried to explain to me what sections in archaeological drawings are by using the Vitruvian man as an example. The Vitruvian man had nothing to do with sections (Leonardo da Vinci drew a lot of sections of human corpses by the way), but it must’ve looked like a section to his unconditioned mind. The funniest thing about it was that one of the restorators was standing by him and didn’t seem to care about the badly used example – surely it must have bothered her, considering her education in The National Academy of Arts?  I guess that’s what they call “groupthink”. Schneewittchen also liked to string a bunch of arguments that had no logical connection between them to come to a conclusion. Actually, he had developed the perfect system to prove that he’s a “genius” – whenever someone tried to explain to him why he is wrong he would either stop listening or get angry at the other person for disproving his “ingenious” ideas.

The most annoying thing about Schneewittchen was how he would talk ill about every person he had come across, even the ones that have sacrificed the most to be part of the team: “Stoyan is this, Nedka is that, Martin is not serious enough…”. Before long I found out that he said those things only to feel better about himself, which was logically quite amusing. I signed up for an MA in archaeology at the New Bulgarian University only on his word, “that I will one day be given references and may work at the university after I finish my PhD”, but I guess I wasn’t  “serious enough”, although I think the offering of work was just a mantra for everyone who doubted his “honest intentions”.  Further on, he didn’t support his words with actions in any way, quite the contrary, his actions dismantled what he said, but not in ways that were immediately obvious, not at first at least.

Anyway, after what Schneewittchen told me at the museum, I had the feeling as if someone (guess who) has tried to smudge shit all over me and didn’t want to have anything to do with that person. So I left the excavations without notice, and I really didn’t feel like I should be giving one.

After that, I met Schneewittchen at the New Bulgarian University and he told me that he was suspending my rights over the excavations “so that people won’t, in the future, think he’s crazy for trusting in me, but I can rest assured because no one is going to beat me because I left the excavations without notice”.  Referring to the something that might, or might not happen in the future is  a logical fallacy, but Schneewittchen dispensed these with ease.  Assuring me that there would be no “physical vengeance” as a consequence was also quite odd because I have in no way implied such fears.

In the end, I would like to conclude, using the same type of logical reasoning, that Schneewittchen can at best be described as what they call “niúbī” in Mandarin Chinese or a word that starts with the letter “p” in the Bulgarian language.

 

 

 

Big Guy and Rusty

I had a subject on some Thracian stuff during my third year of study at the New Bulgarian University. I wasn’t attending the lectures very much, so at a certain point in time, I decided that I should go and the university a visit.

When I entered the classroom there were only Big Guy and the lecturer there. I greeted them politely (I think) and sat down to listen to the lecture. Big Guy seemed to be more interested in me than the lecture as if with me entering the room the topic suddenly changed.

I pretended not to notice what Big Guy was saying, or trying to do, but that seemed to aggravate him all the more. He typed “pussy”, “vagina”, or something of the sort (connected with the female reproductive organ) into Google on the computer near him and clicked on Images. “Hey, Martin, this is for you,” Big Guy said.

The lecturer laughed nervously but didn’t do anything  to stop him, except that he said “he’s not into this sort of things”, or something of the matter, and tried to continue with the lecture.

Big Guy kept on showing me his pictures until I stood up and made a run for it. Big Guy shouted something like “Wait!” as I exited, but I was already closing the door behind me.

Anyway, I’m not sure that he really knows why what he was trying to do worked. It wasn’t the content that disturbed me, but the repetition of the same thing over and over, again and again.

 

 

Archaeologists in Bulgaria

Archaeologists in Bulgaria can be divided into three groups: mammals, dinosaurs, and fossils.

Mammals are small, but fast and work hard. Some dream to become dinosaurs themselves while others don’t care or hope never to be one. They  have to be careful not be stomped by a dinosaur’s feet, so most mammals are always vigilant of what a dinosaur might do. Because of this, a lot of mammals live in constant fear of what a dinosaur might say or think about them.

Dinosaurs are heavy and slow, but they are big and famous. Most of their accomplishments they owe to the mammals, but they try to acknowledge this as little as possible. Like true dinosaurs, they have a lot of free time, which they spend trying to eat or drink a lot. They also like long walks in nature. Nobody is above the dinosaurs physically or intellectually except the fossils. On the slightest hint of a mammal’s uprising (especially intellectually) dinosaurs will stomp them with their feet.

Fossils are the highest order of archaeologists (they are usually professors). Like true fossils, their most important job is to sit in a corner and do nothing – but fossils should be respected!

Dinosaurs sooner or later turn into fossils (some view it as their ultimate goal), but the difference between the two is only slight and superficial.