I very much admire and agree with the comment made by my daughter, Emily Cotler, about a photo taken by her friend, Lisa Boscia Bouillerce.
I imagine myself in ancient Athens, or ancient Wales, or some other place thick with polytheistic mythology…
Looking at this, of course that’s a Sun God, or some ominous portent, the story of which will help shape the moral compass of my village.
Sometimes it’s just less rich to live in a post-modern, monotheistic society where something as beautiful as this can be explained in a quick Google search or an unearthed mental fragment from a college class of distant past… Crepuscular rays, every magical aspect of which can be explained by science…
— 11:07 am ·
Comments Off on Admitting Writers and Artists to Harvard
The following essay is taken without alteration from Harvard Magazine’s current issue. I reprint it without comment because its clarity and persuasiveness require none.
Read and reflect.
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Porter University Professor Helen Vendler, a preeminent poetry critic, has served on Harvard College’s undergraduate admissions committee. Given contemporary admissions processes and pressures, she recalls “wondering how well T.S. Eliot (who had to do a preparatory year at Milton Academy before he could risk admittance, and whose mother was in consultation with Harvard and Milton officials before deciding what to do with him after he finished high school in St. Louis) would have fared, or Wallace Stevens (admitted as a special student to do only three years’ study), or E.E. Cummings (admittedly, a faculty child).” Accordingly, she proposed that alumni interviewers receive some guidance on how to understand, attract, and evaluate applicants whose creative talents might otherwise be overlooked, and wrote this essay, subsequently posted on Harvard’s Office of Admissions website.
Anyone who has seen application folders knows the talents of our potential undergraduates, as well as the difficulties overcome by many of them. And anyone who teaches our undergraduates, as I have done for over 30 years, knows the delight of encountering them. Each of us has responded warmly to many sorts of undergraduates: I’ve encountered the top Eagle Scout in the country, a violinist who Continue reading “Admitting Writers and Artists to Harvard”→
What is life? Or consciousness? Or intelligence? Or self-awareness? Are we spiritual beings or meat machines?
As a result of advances in computer technology, these eternal questions will soon (long before this century is over, IMO) be explored in ways that go further and deeper than religion, philosophy, and literature have done before.
“It is the private trading of complex instruments that lurk in the financial shadows that worries regulators and Wall Street and that [has] created stresses in the broader economy. Economic downturns and panics have occurred before, of course. Few, however, have posed such a serious threat to the entire financial system that regulators have responded as if they were confronting a potential epidemic.”
What began as a collapse in subprime mortgage-based securities (the result of higher interest rates…leading to programmed, but unplanned-for increases in adjustable-rate mortgage payments…leading to increased loan defaults…leading to plummeting investor confidence…leading to…) has now become a full-fledged credit contraction.
I have, in my dotage, become a Peripatetic (derived from Greek… literally “ones walking around”). The Peripatetic School was founded by Aristotle in 335 BC, so I am far from a charter member, but as with philosophy, striding about—especially to high places—affords one a wider view of the world. Continue reading “Mount St. Helena”→