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A former sportswriter and current college professor, Murray
Jay Siskind is one of the tough, media-obsessed New York émigrés
who teach in the American environments department at College-on-the-Hill.
Like the other émigrés, Murray is preoccupied with the iconography
of American popular culture and dreams of someday devoting himself
to the study of Elvis. Murray makes no distinction between his scholarly
and everyday lives. He always uses highly academic, intellectualized
language, and he constantly analyzes and deconstructs the mundane
world around him. For Murray, analysis is romantic in that it allows
him to elevate and celebrate the seemingly insignificant. The supermarket,
for example, reminds Murray of the Tibetan holding place for dead
souls. He believes that television emits enormous quantities of
spiritual and psychic information, which people don’t know how to
Murray is a satire of the postmodern college professor,
who finds deeply significant meaning in everything—particularly
things that other people would consider shallow or irrelevant. Often,
however, at the heart of Murray’s lectures on television and consumerism
lies an accurate, if perhaps somewhat extreme, perception of the
contemporary world. Beneath his deliberately constructed intellectual persona,
complete with pipe and corduroy jacket, Murray is prone to generalizations
and stereotypes. Murray enjoys being contrary and pushing other