Getting That Meal Ticket (pdf)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

I come into the world

The narrator, Aleph Randal McNaughton Cantor, sees the light of day in 1935. Even in the incubator he shows signs of prodigious intellect. Early quarrels with his parents and siblings.

Chapter 2

My Education

At the age of 6 he is enrolled in a special school for precocious children run by a pair of psychiatrists, Fraulein Zwicky and Karl Baumknuppel, Quakers and refugees from Nazi Germany. He submits to the horrors of this school until Baumknuppel attempts to rape him during a therapy session and he runs away.

Chapter 3

More Education

Aleph skips several grades and is placed in an urban high school, typical in terms of its violence and delinquency. Somehow he manages not only to survive but, at the age of 12 he masters and writes original papers in Celestial Mechanics. This leads to his being pulled out of high school and enrolled in a graduate mathematics program at Zelosophic University.

Chapter 4

On the Disintegration of the Moons of Jupiter

Aleph's classic paper on the disintegration of the moons of Jupiter explained.

Chapter 5

Rites of Passage

An account of Aleph's introduction, in 1947, to the Zelosophic community as the campus prodigy, in the Mathematics Department's Graduate Lounge.

Chapter 6

The Training of a Mathematician

In his freshman year friction develops between Aleph and Frank Kriegle, an abrasive logician.

Chapter 7

Love's Awakening

Felicia Salvador , a graduate student from Argentina, is engaged to be married to Frank Kriegle. She takes Aleph into her confidence. He becomes infatuated with her.

Chapter 8

Disorder and Early Sorrow

The bizarre twists and turns of the eternal triangle of Aleph McNaughton Cantor, Felicia Salvador and Frank Kriegle.

Chapter 9

My acculturation

Apart from graduate mathematics, Aleph carris a normal undergraduate's roster of courses. He finds himself unable to comes to terms with courses in Art History and History of Literature in English.

Chapter 10

My Humanization

Similar problems with the "Human Sciences": Psychology, Criminology and Sociology

Chapter 11


A course in Cosmology brings little relief

Chapter 12

Home Life

The volcanic eruption of Aleph's adolescence.

Chapter 13

I Go Mad

Still only 14, Aleph come down with an apalling case of acne. The combination of the heroic therapy prescribed by a doctor at the university hospital, his unhappy relationship with Felicia , his social awkwardness on a conservative campus where everyone else is at least 4 years hold than he is, and his pathological obsession with mathematics, leads inevitably to his nervous breakdown.

Chapter 14

Ludis Mentalis

Horrors and adventures in a state mental hospital. The patients are used as experimental guinea pigs by behaviorist psychiatrist Dr. Jan van Clees. When it becomes clear that van Clees wants to experiment on his brain, Aleph contrives to escape.

Chapter 15

A Good Place to Stop

The narrative jumps forward to 1972, the period in which Aleph is composing this memoir. Cast adrift from Zelosophic U, he is hired by a free lance computer agency which solicits contracts from the Pentagon. Aleph quits rather than waiting to be fired. He ships out on a tramp steamer with forged seaman's papers. He resumes work on the memoir after jumping ship.

Chapter 16

Another helping of Chapter 3

The narrative picks up again with Aleph's account of his 10 years as a seemingly perpetual graduate student. After coasting through several departments he ends up in Biology.

Chapter 17

Evolutionary Ethics

A discourse on Evolutionary Ethics, the study of the way Evolution ought

Chapter 18

I am dragged back to Chapter 5

Aleph is miraculously "rediscovered" by Zelosophic's mathematics department.

Chapter 19

Return of the Prodigal Son

Aleph is given ample facilities to research his PhD thesis. In exchange he must produce something to justify Zelosophic's faith in him.

Chapter 20

Reflections and Regrets

With his doctorate in sight after twenty years of floundering about, Aleph reminiscences on his college career.

Chapter 21


After many years of exile, Aleph is welcomed to the bosom of his family.

Chapter 22

A visit to the President's Office

Aleph's mother drags the whole family to Zelosophic U. to pick up his diploma.

Chapter 23

Penultimate Wrap-Up

Bob Boolean, chairman of the Mathematics Department, lets Aleph know the consequences of another fiasco.

Chapter 24

Between the Event Horizon and the Big Crunch

Most of the principal characters of the novel are assembled in the auditorium of the Math-Physics building to attend the oral presentation of Aleph's PhD thesis. The much heralded event ends in catastrophe.

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