Sunday, February 7, 2010

Visit to St. Johns

Following my trip to europe one would expect me to be much more relaxed about travel; not so, I remain nervous, irrationally worried and generally extremely stressed about the whole endeavor. This time however, it was not without good reason: my flight from LAX to Santa Fe was canceled due to snow in Santa Fe, and LAX turns out to be the most gargantuan, byzantine airport ever conceived by man. There are something like 7 terminals and no transportation between them except walking, sometimes through the kind of very long tunnels one might expect in a nuclear missile silo. To make a 12 hour experience short, I flew to Albuquerque after 6 hours in LAX and then took a shuttle to St. John’s College. My room turned out to be some sort of designated visitor room, with two bunk-beds, sheets and blankets, and a window that was very difficult to open; my roommates of sorts were a guy from Utah and another from Michigan, reasonable people in most ways.
The main part of the tour was from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon, and consisted of observation of three classes and a seminar, a tour of the campus, free food from the cafeteria, and panel discussions with administrators, (to console parents), and current students (to get real answers to questions like, ‘can you go to school here and be a stoner? - some can, some can’t’, ‘how can a students religious beliefs be communicated during philosophical discussions’ - as long as you aren't arrogant about it you’ll be fine, and ‘we’ve all heard how wonderful St. John’s is, what don’t you like about it’ - it’s isolated, fairly non-diverse, and historical analyses of texts are discouraged). Also on the down side - the ratio of males to females is 60:40, which would be at least reversed should I attend any even nominally religious school; and this isn’t a ‘my chances of getting a girlfriend’ issue, in my experience females are considerably more intelligent and less inane than males.
Over the two days I attended freshman lab, math, and seminar (Plato’s Phaedrus) and junior language (french), as well as spending copious amounts of time reading, I finished Fight Club, Waiting for Godot, and Brave New World. Final opinions: Fight Club is brutal, ugly, and ultimately very different from the movie, Waiting for Godot was interesting, but I don’t think I understood much of it, Brave New World was a work of genius, superior to 1984 in almost every way; it is much more realistic, and thus much more terrifying. Of the classes, I was immensely impressed, genuine intellectual discussion occurred in almost every class (the math was just math, but it was a good math, as in they learn straight from Euclid’s text). The seminar was especially fascinating, though I think the discussion fell short of the text, they could have explored the soul of good speech but instead got side-tracked into an argument over the nature of the dialectic and the rhetorical, mostly because one of the four main speakers (from which 80% of the conversation came) was kind of stupid and long-winded.
Overall the trip was effective, I feel like a got a good sense of how the college works, what class is really like and the general atmosphere of the student body. Financial aid remains a critical factor in my decision, as will my visit (yet to be arranged) to Seattle University.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Snowmobile Halo Blues

To all who are in despair
Make haste for the mountains
Taste the sweet pine air and the icy waters
Feel the grinding of the ages in the buckling stone

To all who see the inescapable nature of man
Take flight as the lesser birds to soar high beyond the reach of dread victory
Fly into the blue until the air in your bones is heavy
Until you gasp and all about you is ice and stone

A world beyond all that man can bend
Exist in that tenuous balance
All the energies of the human spirit expending themselves into the fine and dusty earth

A couple forgotten poems

somehow these were never posted, posted only to facebook or written and never typed. they are both from last summer.


Neolithic spirits issuing from ancient inks,
hunters and sages calling ethereal of a primeval being,
of aurochs and rhinoceri
and a virgin land fertile with prehistory.

Sagas and myths and glories imagined,
labyrinths ablaze,
runic inscriptions telling of godmen and their battles above the sky.

Winds foretelling gales of ice and stone
to grind this grondian prison into
the earth and forgetful sea;
a nagging pearl of a thought that
beyond the self-abhorrent folly
into which this Teutonic race has twisted
the wild purity of survival calls still.
reaching out a tendril uncorrupted
to which I could cling

Some hope beyond atonement or justice or penance.
A genesis anew,
man becoming the higher power so long sought.

The lethal severity of the mountain instills
dreams of love lost into the hated night,
a most tangible heart of stone set before me:
symbol of the terror of an Idiot God.
That all these visions, sundered as they are from the gaze of any other,
shall fall with my soul into a lake of fire.
Into ashes and yellowed manuscripts and the insane inane screaming
of ten thousand false prophets.

Islets of Sucia

There are no tall trees on the cape,
terra and arbol tapering into the sea.
In the salt air they grow twisted and wild,
virility so unlike the aged denizens of the mountaintops or the soft density of the forest giants.

Between the tide and bush the stone has worn pitted and en-caved,
overhanging the sunlit waters more wrenching than the most emaciated sculptures of man.

Here is a place to bring your children.
Here is a place to remember.