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Friday, December 08, 2006

A note for Sebastian on graduation, or Aristotle versus pre-professional education

"Surely what we mean by the free play of the mind is a play of the mind without some secret payoff in the future. Surely the ultimate justification of a university education is not something that could be destroyed if the student's life ended on the day of graduation. Ask yourself, now, whether you would consider yourself cheated if some sort of flaming disaster struck Rockefeller Chapel and took us all to the kind of unexpected death that will, in fact, meet some of us during the next year--cheated because you had spent your last years struggling for an education? I suspect that some of you would feel cheated, but if you would, if you do not feel any sense that these recent years have been in some degree self-justifying, I feel sorry for you, and if I had the authority I would suggest that you request a refund. Not only should these years have been filled with activities worth pursuing even if all external demands were removed; they should have provided you with a philosophy of life that would prevent your looking to the future for some sort of payoff for the present. Except for a handful of fundamentalist Christians, the world has learned not to look to future heavenly rewards as the ultimate sanction of virtue; but we have so far been unable to rid ourselves of the kind of futurism that sees all of the present as a means to some future fulfillment."

--"Mr. Gradgrind," a commencement speech by Wayne Booth, winter 1965

Friday, December 01, 2006

What if they had a protest, and it snowed, and it was cold, and I was busy, and no one came?

I walked past the tiny Save the UnCommon Application protest today, but it looked so sad and strange that I didn't stop and went straight to work instead. Maybe I was just too early to see it at the height of its maybe 15-person glory.

Last night, we hosted a dinner party featuring a guacamole appetizer, grilled chicken breasts with spicy peach glaze over coconut rice with fried green beans, followed by chocolate fondue. I think that officially makes us awesome. But now it's snowing and cold and my clothes are uncomfortable and thick and many-layered and my hair is all standing on end from the static, and I feel like Randy from A Christmas Story in his full-body snowsuit wailing, "I can't put my arms down!" I think fashion, comfort, and freezing temperatures are almost impossible to resolve into one harmonious outfit.

I had a dream last night that I drank some kind of magical orange juice that made me really buff and strong and everyone was afraid of me.