Where I want to be

Once, on my long path from the parking lot through courtyards and down hallways to my office, I trailed behind an admissions tour group led by a student. I heard him say to the assemblage of parents, prospective students, and tagalong younger siblings, “Our campus isn’t very beautiful. I mean, it’s an urban school.”

Whoa there, I thought. Our campus is amazing. Indeed — domes, arches, windows, low stones walls, high ones, the river over there, surfaces, trees, groundcover, bicycle racks, and silhouettes against the sky — there is always something interesting to look at.

Last Wednesday, after a day filled with 1:1 writing conferences (6 of those) and presentation rehearsals (4 of those), I took a detour back to the parking garage to check out a new outdoor sculpture, Alchemist by Jaume Plensa, that I had noticed from across the street as I hurried back and forth on other days.

W 11.24.2010 ~3:00pm @W20 MIT

And last night, same sculpture, same impulse.

T 11.29.2010 ~5:30pm @W20 MIT

With the fence gone, we can now walk into to the “doorway” at the front of the seated figure and view the mathematical symbols from the inside out. If you live or work in the Boston/Cambridge area, it’s easy to get to the Alchemist, right across from the main building at 77 Massachusetts Avenue in plain view.

Dear Admissions Tour Guide, I’d like to ask you if I could: “Is this not beautiful?”

Favorite singer, favorite song, and the inspiration for my post’s title: “This Must Be the Place,” by the Talking Heads.

9 thoughts on “Where I want to be

  1. Our campus is indeed beautiful, for all the reasons you mention: the river, the wonderful architecture, the landscaping, the outdoor sculptures like “The Alchemist” or Calder’s “Big Sail.”

  2. JANE! It is my favorite song by them too, and I think of you every time I hear it. A few weeks ago I was going to post videos of songs that remind me of my siblings, starting with you. And I think I still have that VHS tape of all of their videos you gave me long long ago…

    Oh, yeah – cool sculpture. Will check it out.

    • Looking forward to that post. Good idea. I am formulating a mental list of such videos, and I will check it against the one you put together. Let’s see though:

      Jane, TH
      Michael, B-52s
      Sally, The Who
      Emily, ? (the mystery sister)

  3. It’s interesting how the “posture” and “build” of the same figure look very different from just slightly altered perspectives, and of course, in different light. Like your perspective and that of the admission tour guide.

    • Cool insight, Jane.
      The sculpture is very much that in person, too. You walk around it, and the posture seems to shift.

      Let me tell you, at night this is so much better than a holiday tree. (I think the students could decorate this, as a hack, for Christmas.)

  4. Even in the harshest, most inhospitable places there is always something worthy of your attention. I don’t think most students take the time to just look at their surroundings and consider what is in their field of vision.

    I also think there is a “campus party line” that students buy into and perpetuate, such as “our campus isn’t beautiful because it is urban” or “don’t go into the city of Durham, you will be mugged or worse if you leave campus.” Students are missing a lot simply by not having the courage to be curious.

  5. It’s true, Beth.
    Although I must say, at the last college I worked at, I had been there several months before I walked between two buildings and noticed, for the first time, a pond! Sometimes noticing takes repetition, a little variation in routine, and a long time.

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