Monday, September 20, 2004
On this day:

Oppression Studies at the Capstone

I had no idea that it was possible to receive a degree in "Oppression Studies" from the University of Alabama. But, this story in the UA student newspaper refers to a student in the New College there who is majoring in just that.

In my years at the University, I often heard of the New College and had a vague idea of how it worked, but never quite grasped the concept. I think most New College students never quite grasped the concept, either, for that matter. This evening, after a little investigation, I found out that the New College was created in the 1960's to allow students to design their own majors, thereby transcending the bonds of traditional curricula.

And, lo! As I was looking back and remembering those times, a picture slowly emerged of a New College graduate I once encountered (play Twilight Zone music now):

I'm sitting at the Chukker in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A tall, scraggly guy with long hair and a nose ring approaches the bar with an ambling gait and sits down a couple of stools away. He orders a appears to be a PBR, but I'm not quite seems that a fog has descended in the air between us and I can't quite make out the label. I smell smoke...could the building be on fire? I heard that the Chukker is closing soon (or has it already closed?). But they wouldn't burn it down, would they? No, surely they wouldn't do such a thing, not with all these people in here. Wait, the Chukker is closed? How nice of them to let me in...especially with the building on fire and all.

Suddenly a voice appears through the fog. "How's it going," it says.

"Fine," I respond, "did you smell smoke earlier?"

"Only the cigarette smoke," the voice replies.

"Oh," I say as the fog lifts and I again see the face that belongs to the voice. "So what brings you here?"

"No particular reason. Just needed a few beers," he replies, as he orders a Heineken from the bartender.

We continue to talk, and he tells me that he too was once a student at UA. And an exceptional one, it seems. He reminisces about how he once wrote a brilliant essay on "The Physical and Metaphysical Conflicts Between
Schroedinger's Cat and Maya Angelou's Caged Bird." I relate to him that I once had a cat named Crisco who was completely white except for a little black spot on the very top of his head. But, I think my cat was the victim of a horrible collision with my mom's Chevette. He responds, "Uh-huh, " and goes on to talk about another paper he wrote entitled "It's All Relative: Common Perspectives on Intimacy in the Hypotheses of Einstein and Freud." He is explaining something about Freud slipping into Einstein's boxcar, when the fog reappears. "Well, I believe it's time for me to go. It was very nice talking with you," I say, and leave the stool and the bar behind.