Ghosts of First Year
AUG 01, 2013 | BY DAVID STOKES
the University. in our culture, it’s where we expect them to live. we invite these presences here, encounter them in books, talk incessantly about them. soon we find them alive and walking around campus. Descartes confronts the dimming of the lights on a night walk beside the back-campus football pitch. October, darkness seems to grasp each evening, no trips to warm lands, without money, lived fully in abstractions, the city reminds him of what he's lost or never had. His nervous breakdown. The filigrees on Soldiers Tower. His three dreams. A friend calls to you and you squint to see them.
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of Virginia Woolf when i’m in the graham library stacks. i am wearing my winter jacket and am very warm; sweat. She is sitting in the corner in a white ______. She has become a man, someone else. I will meet her again in the orange and white koi in the reflecting pool outside. or gables of university college.
De Sade at every chimney in the old buildings. The basement labs with lights still on. Frederick the Great, when I peel an orange in Sid Smith. Or when I’m looking at my calendar of essay deadlines. Augustine...
Often I'd meet someone and I was not myself but actually _______, and they were not a _____ but _________. Things got testy. New ideas ______. Next time I'd meet them they would have become Rousseau. Me, ______. All knowledge was like knowing a person.
Socrates took a keen interest in hundreds of tutorials.
Second year brought different presences, and each year hence they were closer to my own time, till it seemed like I had just missed them (Foucault, Deleuze). Eventually it got too crowded, and I had to kick everyone out of my head for a bit. Spend my time with the living.
Who haunted you during first year?
- Subtitle: The dead are a feisty lot.