...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Everything that rises must converge

Saturday afternoon Daniel and I met downtown then took the shuttle back up to campus. The shuttle was packed with students chatting about their weekends, reading, lugging bags of groceries; when we arrived in front of Templeton everyone rose to file out, while the crowd of kids waiting at the stop pressed into us, eager to claim seats. As we separated from the crowd and headed towards the apartments, D. said to me, "I am so glad I'm not a college student anymore."

It's a sentiment that I understand but don't share: I love being a college student. Now, obviously, you don't have to like school or have gone to college to be smart: D. is probably the most intellectual, best-read person I know, excluding professors. I'm sure that college didn't hurt, but I know he would be the same way even if he hadn't gone on to higher education, because that's just the way he is: he decides to learn about Derrida and then checks a bunch of books out the library and reads them and teaches himself about Derrida. I admire that autodidactic impulse but I'm not sure if I share it: I never would have read Ulysses, for instance, if it hadn't been assigned to me.

I don't always love my classes, and I don't always love the people around me, and sometimes the assignments seem stupid and pointless (viz. my recent crappy two-page essay about the life and work of Miguel Cervantes) but I love the spirit of the Academy and the life of the mind; books and papers and late nights and mid-morning naps and sipping ginger-lemon tea while making notes in The Mormon Experience or The Sociology of Religion; used books and the accumulation of knowledge; professors who become mentors and role models and friends who get excited about what they're studying; discovering new passions and finding unexpected convergences and parallels.

For me, the joy of learning is wrapped up in the Academy. It's one of the hardest things about this semester, I think: knowing that I'm almost done. D.'s example is inspiring: although my formal education (at the undergraduate level, at least) is almost over, as long as there's a library around I can continue learning and discussing.