Cross posted on my other blog.
Friday, June 22, 2007
There really hasn't been to much to post about in the last few weeks, at least in regard to the college life. The Maymester (firehose) session.....well, enough about that. Lots and lots of writing, which served a very useful purpose, but I don't think we'll try that again.
Summer School is a blast. One course; sure, it's a lot of classroom time, but the professor and my fellow students all seem to want to be there, it feels a lot less formal, and the learning is just as good. Sometimes it's hard to stay on top of the work, but the learning skills are restored, and I can catch up if I suffer a lazy day or two.
What's neat is seeing all the recent high school graduates that are cycling through the two day orientations, with parents and younger siblings along for the ride. I can't look at them, all young and wide-eyed, trying to appear cool - but still drinking it all in, without wondering what they are thinking.
Yes, it's a little slow around the campus, but we need the rest before we climb back on the beast in August.
Posted by Agricola at 2:00 PM
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Maybe this article can explain the thought processes of the brave admissions committee that agreed to let me re-enter the world of academe: admissions in favor of males admissions.
Many colleges heavily favor male applicants to prevent women from dominating their student bodies, a U.S. News & World Report study of admissions data of 1,400 colleges shows. Women tend to be better students than men in terms of grades and the kinds of extra-curricular activities, like theater or music classes, that admissions officers look out for. If the same proportion of male applicants were accepted as female applicants, men would become a small minority at some small liberal-arts colleges.
The small liberal-arts colleges in between, however, have to heavily tip the scales in favor of male applicants in order to maintain a gender balance. For example, in 1997, William and Mary’s admissions rates for men and women were close: 51% for men and 43% for women in 1997. Following a steep rise in applications, the gap had widened last year to a 44% rate for male applicants versus 26% for women. Meanwhile, the proportion of female undergraduates has fallen to 54% last year, from 60% a decade ago.
Then there is this nugget of advice:
Steve Goodman, an independent college counselor, advises male students to emphasize their maleness in applications by submitting pictures or playing up the sports they play.
If I had to compete with either of these students, I might still be putzing around in my unfulfilling job.....
Posted by Agricola at 7:16 AM
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On your way to the station, or happily Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday--
You meet me and you say:
'Don't forget to see about the cattle--'
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.
And I think of you walking along a headland
Of green oats in June,
So full of repose, so rich with life--
And I see us meeting at the end of a town on a fair day by accident,
after the bargains are all made and we can walk
Together through the shops and stalls and markets
Free in the oriental streets of thought.
O you are not lying in the wet clay,
For it is harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us -- eternally.
By: Patrick Kavanagh
Posted by Agricola at 12:01 PM
Thursday, June 7, 2007
In our history class last semester, Professor P... carefully stressed the importance of watershed events in history; literally events that changed the course of history. Today, in the second half of the sequence, Professor G.... casually remarked that the Battle of Lepanto was the watershed event in European history. Now, to me, that's a pretty bold statement about the sweep of history and the tides of men's affairs. But consider the facts:
- Islam was the controlling force for religion and government in the world, possibly excepting China, which was very self contained. It provided a unifying force that tied cultures, languages, races, and mercantile goods to a huge swath of the global population.
- The Islamic empires, either the Caliphate, or its heirs, the Ottomans, Mughals, and Safavids controlled the crossroads of the world, and thus controlled access to the riches of the Orient (spices, precious stones, etc) demanded by the growing populations of Europe. The ability to control that access caused enormous wealth to flow into the coffers of those empires.
- The European nations, forced to travel long distances for goods from the Orient, turned to the seas as an alternative to overland travel. In looking for the Orient, they unintentionally discovered the Americas. The wealth, in raw materials, of the Americas gave the Europeans equal footing with the Islamic empires in terms of purchasing and spending power.
- Had the Ottoman Turks defeated the European coalition (see, they used to be able to fight together, at least in the short term), the Turks would have been able to control the Mediterranean. From there, they would have been able to move into the Atlantic. Had that happened, argues Professor G..., the Islamic navies would have been in a position to interfere, if not control the Atlantic trade routes.
Pretty neat stuff.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Please click on the link above for some background.....
Only last weekend, I was.... not ridiculed, that's too strong, instead let's say... given an incredulous look by a contemporary and his college-aged son upon their learning that I am a card-carrying member of Facebook. To the father, it may have crossed his mind that I am engaged in either a) lecherous behavior, or b) trying a mite too hard to be a college student. To the son, I probably come across as a hopeless nerd, wishing to be something I clearly am not, nor ever will be. Neither is exactly true, but I do feel slightly uncomfortable at the notion of imposing my desire for friendship on a total stranger who happens to be, say, 19. I mean, just the thought of such a request creates, in the back of my mind, images of my face on Dateline, as Chris Hanson interrogates me. But, no matter. The journey is the destination, and I will observe, as closely as I can, the aspects of the college community that were missed in the fog of my earlier career.
I mean, no one looks askance when I pull out my AARP card.....it's just another group, isn't it?
Posted by Agricola at 12:47 PM
Roger Kimball, writing in The New Criterion, levels a blast at the state of art in the art world. The blogsite Powerline follows up with a scathing post about a new exhibit at Dartmouth. Here is a brief excerpt from the New Criterion piece:
A third additional element in this sorry story has to do with the decoupling of art-world practice from the practice of art. Look at the objects on view in “Wrestle”: almost none has anything to do with art as traditionally understood: mastery of a craft in order to make objects that gratify and ennoble those who see them. On the contrary, the art world has wholeheartedly embraced art as an exercise in political sermonizing and anti-humanistic persiflage, which has assured the increasing trivialization of the practice of art. For those who cherish art as an ally to civilization, the disaster that is today’s art world is nothing less than a tragedy. But this, too, will pass. Sooner or later, even the Leon Botsteins and Marieluise Hessels of the world will realize that the character in Bruce Nauman’s “Good Boy, Bad Boy” was right: “this is boring.”In my Maymester class, we explored the world of book reviews and literary criticism. It was fascinating to see, in the flow of time and events, the tension in the literary world as new generations of writers came to dominate the scene. As products of their cultural milieu, created by the swirl of events that influenced their world, much as the events of today do to us, each new generation sought a clean break with the sensibilities of their immediate predecessors. In the study of literature, we might read Thomas Hardy and then James Joyce; both are appreciated for their talent and their contributions to the art. Yet, to read the criticism of the period as Hardy wanes and Joyce waxes is to read of bitter exchanges, hurtful words, and utter disdain as the tectonic plates of their cultures clashed. The angst of yesterday has been replaced by today's understanding of their complementary nature.
So it seems that the current dissatisfaction with the direction of art may spring from the same forces. But, having moved art into a political context, one has to ask if there can ever be, even after the passage of time, a reconciliation between the concepts of beauty and truth, since politics cannot seem to be a constant truth, which, to this amateur, is a hallmark of art.
Posted by Agricola at 8:58 AM
Friday, June 1, 2007
Cross posted at Close Reading
The art of writing reviews is art. In addition to providing information about a particular performance and perhaps a critical analysis of the work, reading a review is an opportunity to observe, and appreciate, the artistic elements of the review itself. In other words, the reader is given two performances to consider; often the merit of one clearly outshines the other.
Without implying that the recital, last night, performed by Shen Wei was any less impressive than the review of that performance in today's Post & Courier, the craft of the review struck this amateur reviewer as unique and interesting; using the form of the present tense was a bold and imaginative stroke that effectively conveyed the power of the performance.
Understanding that the appreciation of art is an intensely subjective experience renders moot the consideration of objective criteria when it comes to appreciating the reviewer.
Posted by Agricola at 11:19 AM