Friday, September 14, 2012

Thinking at the Java Jazz

Friday on the campus of Wossamotta University.


The Student Centre is the heart Wossamotta U, and the Java Jazz is the left ventricle.  A windowless, cozy corner filled with furniture, framed paintings, and laptop outlets with improv jazz lazing through the air like a moray eel.  It’s the perfect place to catch up with friends, take in some pastry confections, or just sit back with some latte and let the world pass you by.

Or, in my case, it’s a fine place to study.

I’m not the only one, either.  In the far corner there’s a long table completely submerged in books and papers, while some poor lost soul puzzles his way through note cards and sucks down cappuccino, Lestat clinging to the alligator, skin still charred, drinking down its life.

The music lends a brilliant counter-melody to the quiet desperation already building in the place.  The upstairs counseling offices are packed, lines going round the corner.  The first rule of laboratory conduct is that hot glass looks just like cold glass, hot metal like cold, and college courses are no different.  Monday is the last day to drop classes without leaving a scar, and the student body knows this.  After that, the “W” follows you forever, the collegiate’s scarlet letter.  Adultery on campus is a momentary lapse, but withdrawal is a mark on your soul.

Alphabet_23.jpg Flaming W

There isn’t much romance, I notice.  Last spring, the halls were full of the stuff, and you had to wade through a morass of young lovers and old flames just to get to class.  But that was then.  Summer was round the corner, and the end was almost nigh.  Now the cycle is just restarting, and the clarion calls resound throughout the campus.  “This isn’t anything like high school” meets “Good God, how could I forget so much so quickly” and suddenly only the long-term sweethearts and old marrieds are still getting laid.

For the rest of us, the two songs blend and merge and form a new mantra to an old, old beat.  “If you can’t sleep, study.  If you can’t study, sleep.”

Maybe I’m maladjusted that I’m enjoying this, nobody else seems to be.  A true mutant, as Thompson one said, never even considered for mass production.  I attended a set of seminars on studying recently, and it had a lot of good points.  Professor Clockwork gave the lecture, some of you might remember him from last semester.  I’m taking a class from him this year as well, and no regrets.  He occasionally broke the seminar with encouragements to his audience, “It’s hard, isn’t it?  That’s okay.  Thinking’s hard work.  Even hurts a little, doesn’t it?  But it gets easier with practice.”  I’m glad he’s encouraging them, and mildly horrified that so many are agreeing with him.  But he is a force for good, if I may dare use the term.  He is teaching people how to think, and encouraging the practice.


Which is the best part about college, really.  through it all, even in the most terrible times, there is opportunity to learn not just new data and its application, but even different modalities of thought.  Yes, you can get through it by going through the motions and reaping the diploma at the end.  But for those of us for whom thinking is not painful but a source of joy, it is even at its worst a place of adventure.

The Java Jazz is closing up now.  The servers are laughing, the actors are taking off their masks, and it's time to move on.  I'll wrap this up and head over to Lauren's, and together we'll write and think until the sun screams morning.

And tomorrow I'll hit the books yet again.

Walk with grace,

--Coyote.

(Wossamotta U pic courtesy of wdinfo.com; jazz eels pic courtesy of fiftytwoeels.blogspot.com; scarlet letter W in flames courtesy of s736.photobucket.com and created by Richishot2; lightning brain courtesy of whatsonyourplateproject.org.  Copyright for all images by their original creators.  All rights  reserved, images displayed without any intent to infrnge upon copyright whatsoever.)

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