Thursday, April 28, 2005

i just reckoned all y'all minored in ancient greek*

Doesn't everybody know what a deus ex machina is? Apparently not.

Today in Evidence, in an incident reminiscient of a Jay Leno street interview (if you're into that Gentile humor), our professor was discussing a case which opined that a certain legal theory was, in fact, a deus ex machina. Despite her brilliance, our professor did not know what that was and proceeded to ask a room full of 150 second and third year law students if any of them knew what that was.

Now, I'm not really into talking in class. Of course, when I get called on, I'm all over it, but beyond that, I just sit behind my laptop and let it marinate. In my experience and observation, for someone to always be talking even when not "on-call" wastes everybody's time, accomplishes nothing, and because the person is usually wrong, makes them look sily. We call these people "gunners".

So in class, I'm a quite guy. But when our esteemed professor was granted with blank stares in response to her classical inquiry, I knew I had to step up, and let my unassuming yet captivatingly Alec Baldwin-esque voice sound out from the back row.

"It's a literary device in Classical Greek and Roman drama wherein a deity, such as Zeus or Athena, arrives in the last scene to resolve an otherwise hopeless conflict. On stage, they used an actual machine to lower the actor playing the deity into the scene - hence the "machina"."

Within a few seconds, an e-mail was delivered unto me, courtesy of our fabulous wireless internet:

Subject: you are a big greek nerd

How in the hell did you know that?

- D.M.

I dunno. I thought everybody knew that.

Editor's note: The writers of The Write-On are well aware that the term "deus ex machina" is Latin, not Greek. Yet in the venerable Classics department at Texas Tech, we had to read all of it, and the distinction seemed unwarranted in an Evidence course discussion. So step off.