Healey's piece outlines the impact of the Québec student strike at McGill University, where the English department voted to go on strike for a week. This took place in March, when Healey was a wide-eyed, idealistic English student on strike just months from graduation, fighting an internal battle the likes of which have not been so poignantly expressed through the written word since Hamlet:
The next day, an English student from Rumson, New Jersey, say, wakes up in an Aylmer greystone, walks two blocks to campus, past a picket at Wilson Hall, past the Arts Building steps draped in a banner in French, what else, that says McGill littérature française en grève, 4/5 cognately comprehensible, and then up the hill to the Education Building, where he finds the door to ENGL 360: Literary Criticism blocked by two ectomorphic arms that lead to red squares pinned to their breast. Say the Lit Crit prof has integrity and refuses to call security. He encourages his drowsy students, among them the Central Jerseyan, to honor the strike, but he must insist on his own entrance. The picketers refuse, the professor is frustrated and resigns (he was sympathetic anyway): class is cancelled. For our Central Jerseyan, this is weird, the closest analogue found only in fire drills, the word “strike” pulled from the Gilded Age chapter of a history textbook or his peripheral vision on a city street. He takes a more convenient, early lunch at an on-campus Subway outlet and arrives early to his next class in Arts 130.
That "English student from Rumson, New Jersey" is not Ryan Healey. But Ryan Healey is from Rumson, New Jersey, and we have the pleasure of spending everyday sitting together at the intern table, which we lovingly refer to as "Intern Nation." He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule, full to the brim with mailing books, eating Skittles, and obsessively checking how many people have retweeted his article, to roll his chair to our side of the table and answer a few of our burning questions:
Verso: So Ryan, we heard—from you, as it was happening—that you wrote parts of this piece at this very table in the Verso office. Can you confirm this already confirmed fact?
RH: I think I was just minding my own surplus labor.
Verso: What was Žižek's feedback on your earlier drafts?
RH: "It's a little bit more than nothing. Needs more Lacan."
Verso: How do you think this piece compares to the one we wrote together?
RH: As we talk to death this blog post, everyone else in the office discusses the incoming fall interns. Then add a morbid line maybe from Eliot about the seasons changing or something, career death on our horizon, etc.
That idea of "career death on our horizon"—too much debt, not enough jobs—plays a large part in the militancy of the Québec student strikes. While we palaver about and put off the inevitable general unlimited intern strike, today marks the 131st day of the Québec student strike, and thousands are in the streets of Montreal this very moment, going west on Boulevard René-Lévesque.
Visit The New Inquiry to read the article in full.