Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No Longer Left Behind - A William and Mary Grad Speaks Out!

A lot of bloggers are getting to complain about their alma maters lately. The Dartmouth guys over at Powerline have gotten a lot of mileage out of the alumni revolt over the board elections, and the Duke grads have been able to sound off for an entire year about the lacrosse team accusations. Today Dr. Sanity gets to fume about multiple graduations at UCLA, and this time of year people get to grouse about commencement speakers in general, such as this list from last year.

I felt left out, see? It seemed that everyone was getting to rag on their college but me. Then I remembered that William and Mary actually had two national controversies in the last year: the removal of the cross from the Wren Chapel and the exhibit about sex workers.

But I don't care. Sure, these both represent more of the deterioration of Western Civilization, a battle in which I am expected by my peers to be a rearguard footsoldier. I still don't care. I don't send W&M any money, so boycotting them will have zero effect. I haven't been to a reunion since... 1982 or something. I last visited in 199...6, when Jonathan was looking at colleges. He didn't like it much, and frankly, I wasn't so thrilled myself. I have an old roommate who's a dean now, and I have contact with a classmate maybe once a year.

I barely recall what the Wren Chapel looks like. I have no memory of its supposedly historic cross. It was not a place of spiritual refreshment for me at any time. It would be great if I had some story about a life-changing experience involving a time of crisis and impromptu visit to the chapel, resulting in my contemplation of that particular cross and its significance because of all the brothers and sisters in Christ who had gone before. If I had such a story, I would certainly have written it to the college newspaper during the heat of the controversy. And been appropriately outraged, of course. I was deeply saddened to learn that The College is contemplating the removal...

As for the exhibit about sex workers - this is supposed to be avant garde? I was a theater major in the 1970's, for pete's sake. Sexual controversy was 50% of our conversation for four years, and we took off our clothes for no reason. We were very earnest. Significant, even. And we got to talk about sex more than anybody, except maybe the dancers. A exhibit about sex workers, which allows the studio art and women's studies people to also look very earnest and significant while talking about sex? How 20th Century.

Simple declaratives, which everyone outside of academia already knows: 1) the removal of the cross is not an expression of respect and welcome of other religions. Buddhists are not empowered by this move. It is an endorsement of the vague spirituality that is the Zeitgeist. If you don't want to sound so Moonflower about it, you can say "other spiritual traditions" instead. Because it is an endorsement of the general, it is of course a demotion of the specific tradition of Christianity, which previously held a spot of higher eminence. 2) Because learning new and challenging things often makes us uncomfortable, artists and academics continue to suppose that making people uncomfortable is in itself a learning experience. I doubt they apply that to their travel and interior design plans, because when they operate in the everyday world, they know that the idea is crap just as well as the rest of us do. But they've got themselves talked into this silly notion when it comes to inflicting their ideas on others. Plus, they get a chance to talk about sex right out in public, which helps in mating rituals.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

1 comment:

Giacomo said...

Because learning new and challenging things often makes us uncomfortable, artists and academics continue to suppose that making people uncomfortable is in itself a learning experience.

That's actually quite a thought provoking concept. And it may explain a lot of "performance art."