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Gaudeamus Igitur
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“A lovely picture of a proud father and a triumphant daughter. Friends or colleagues of yours?”
“No,” Harold said, “this appeared in Harvard’s Alumni magazine about 20 years ago. I asked the Public Relations lady to get me a print. I have no idea who they were, or are.”
“And you’ve included it in your collection for the same purpose as the previous color and black and white juxtaposition?”
“Partly. But mostly because it reminds me of the existence of parallel universes.”
“Ah, Harold, now you’re getting into allegory, metaphor.”
“The very best way of dealing with disturbing subjects, don’t you think?”
“I don’t see anything at all unpleasant about the scene,” I said. “Here are walls of ivy, a celebration of accomplishment. I can hear the strains of Gaudeamus igitur. ”
“Yes, the medieval students’ song picked up by Brahams in his Academic Festival Overture. Did you know that when it was first performed at the University of Breslau in 1881 many members of the assembled faculty were shocked?”
“Why?”
“Because it was more often heard in dormitories and taverns, rather than in the ever-so-solemn classrooms and libraries of that elite university. At the time the tune was an unofficial anthem of rowdy students protesting German police surveillance.”
“Very interesting. But you were speaking of parallel universes, disturbing subjects.”
“Yes, thank you. Can you imagine in what circumstances such an image would elicit a negative reaction?”
I thought for a moment. “I suppose the folks in a third world slum wouldn’t see much beauty in it.”
“Exactly. Academia is a small, private enclave inhabited mostly by the privileged.”
“But, my friend, you were a part of it.”
“I was in it, yes. But I was never truly OF it. Why do you think I left?”



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