written by Anthea Syrokou
[Publisher’s Note: In my recent, David Boles: Human Meme, podcast entitled — “We Are Our Works” — loyal listener Anthea Syrokou wrote a smart, and thoughtful, response to that piece of work and, with her permission, we share her fine mind…
We live in odd and curious times where politics are more performance than punditry and more perfunctory than professional. How did we get in such a mess of unequal consequences? We won’t just rise or fall and find the mean when this comet ride is over — we’re heading into a catastrophic tumble of immortal termination — just as the Gods before us fell from the temple and humankind stopped looking to the heavens for confirmation of the merits of their lives in the glow of the clouds and decided to forgive their own sins while skipping the punishments.
In critical moments, I turn to my training, and seek the greater mind, and the more universally sophisticated aesthetic for guidance and comfort. As, Aristotle wrote, in “Politics” —
Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.
2015 is coming to a close with a bang and a whimper. The bang of violence across the world beckons and the whimper of those right people who prefer to do the moral thing to make the world better, threatens. However, neither bang nor whimper now has a clear path to an endgame that can not only just win a moment, but change the world.
Columbia University in the City of New York was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. Columbia is the fifth oldest university in America and the oldest living school in the State of New York. As a graduate of Columbia, you never tire of reaching back into history to pull out instances of living and of educational memeing and of the loving of a life that remains to haunt you today — because way back when is always more perceptive and pleasing than the now and again.
I was delightfully fortunate to be able to purchase a large cache of genuine Columbia University photographs. Columbia has a certain reputation in the history of America as being a seat of unrest, and a center of the human protest against the status quo, while also trailblazing educational concepts for teaching and learning.
We begin our photographic tour in 1930 with this caption:
COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
New York — General view of the commencement excercises at Columbia University, showing the great assemblage of students listening to the address of president Nicholas Murray Butler of Columbia. There were 861 diplomas and 4,895 degrees awarded during the ceremony. More than 20,000 spectators witnessed the exercise. 6-3-30.
In you look closely, you can see a naked 115th Street from the Columbia green! There’s no Butler library yet — named for Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler mentioned in the caption — Butler Library would rise along the North side of 115th Street in 1931 and would be dedicated in 1934.
Many may remember the infamous, and violent, Columbia riots of 1968 — but few know about the strike two generations previous that overtook the Morningside campus in 1932. This is that story — told in authentic, historic, photographs and captions — that I was able to purchase and share with you today.
COLUMBIA STUDENTS STRIKE
Protesting the expulsion of Reed Harris, crusading editor of the “Columbia Spectator”, undergraduate daily, a one day strike was called on April 4th, by more than a thousand students at a mass meeting in New York. The students applauded speakers attacking Dean Herbert E. Hawkes, who expelled Harris, and President Nicholas Murray Butler, Harris first gained recognition when he attacked the conduct of Athletics at Columbia University as “semi-professional”. The photo shows a general view of the thousands at the mass meeting. 4/4/32
Brander Matthews was one of the purist theatrical geniuses we’ve had in, and around, the intellectual American Stage. Brander rightly believed a play only existed in performance and that the performance and the text must be evaluated separately. He was also one of the first professors at an American University — Columbia University in the City of New York starting in 1892 — to promote, and foster, the idea that Dramatic Literature was just as important a field of study as any historic cave wall painting or artistic sculpture or aesthetic structure. He believed in the power of the Playwright to form the world.
Today, I am pleased to share with you my new book — a Boles Book for Becoming Job Ready — and I wrote the book to help young people learn how to wend their way into a new job marketplace, an area that is getting tougher, and more crowded, to survive in, and conquer, every day.