Please check the archives for a chronological listing of posts.
Welcome to the What’s Happening in Philosophocle (WHiP) column. Recently, we have gotten several complaints that the blog is “full of gossip,” “full of hot air,” and “all words and no pictures.” This column will remedy the situation: every time I will bring you an interview with a professor, who will tell us how their research is relevant in everyday life. Today I bring you an interview with Professor Rando, who has a dual appointment in the Math and Technology Departments. He is also a acclaimed storyteller, and the only Professor to have won the annual Scoop Story Slam.
Today is the first snow of the new year! I ready my camera, walkie-talkie, and stack of tutorials, all individually enclosed in snow-proof plastic covers (on such topics as How to Build a Snowman, How to Build a Snowwoman, How to Build a Nongendered Snowperson1, Snow-Angels for Dummies, The Art of Snowball Wars, Snowfort Construction, Hypothermia Public Service Announcement, and Stages of Grief - the last for when the snowcreature eventually melts; it is never too early to prepare), and bundle up before making the rounds.
Fall brings with it a melancholy. No longer do the students tread lightly, but rather, with hands tightly holding on to the straps of their backpacks, weary of impending desolation. For soon the snows will fall, covering campus with uneven lumps of white. We will watch the squirrels journeying through the snow, searching for forgotten treasures that they will never find.
The Department of Soulmates is an important part of the WholeBeing center. When the ancients say, “You are only half a person,” they are not talking in doublespeak. Philosophocle, as an institution of learning, has been traditionally hostile towards romantic relationships, viewing them as a distraction, outside of certain inbred groups (the Sexists, the Poly House, and the “Concocters” subfaction of the Creativists). Those that hold up signs before lunch, “Date me for lunch today!” are often given icy glares.
A public elevator has been installed in the library! There was much debate about whether its installation would discourage physical activity—climbing stairs with an armful of books works out both your arm and leg muscles, while standing in an elevator does neither—and whether we would create another fault line for our already splintered student body—perhaps they will call themselves Walkers and Riders. (We have planned for this eventuality, so there is a temporary moratorium on any application for founding religions which make significant mention to either stairs or elevators.)
There is a seat missing among us today. One of the regular Unis is sick and cannot come.
A petite girl with a large book of Classical Ballads sits down in the empty chair. She has a taco salad. None of us got a taco salad, because unlike all the other entrees which are eaten with spoon and fork, it is too hands-on. Eating a taco salad would distinguish us from others. She has a side of curried cauliflower, rather than the peppered peas that the rest of us have. She is wearing a blue shirt, not a U-shirt.
We all look at her, unsure how to respond. I wait for another to speak up, but of course, we are all waiting for another to speak up, so none of us do.
“Heya,” she says brightly. “On the surface you look the same/ Makes me wonder what are y’all’s names?”
It seems like more and more students are converting to either Uniformism or Creativism every day. Much of this can be attributed to Trevisia’s and Fron’s recent fiery posts. Many come to my office during walk-in hours to ask whether they are more suited for Uniformism or Creativism. “If you have to ask,” I tell them, “Perhaps you are neither.”
I’m so happy for Rudii—she has finally fallen in love at first sight! Or as we like to say, “instant concoction”!1
You might say it’s just coincidence. But actually, being a Creativist gives you a higher chance of falling in love! Let’s start with some history.
While much of the student body is engaged in perpetual mock-wars between different religions (particularly the Creativists and the Uniformists), I would like to take the opportunity to offer an alternative: agnosticism.
People ask why I am agnostic. “Is it not terrifying, to have no solid ideals to stand on?” they ask me all the time.
At Philosophocle, there are many paths. There are stairs angling proudly up the hills and sinusoids winding leisurely through the garden. There are zigzags of wheelchair-accessible alternatives, basement tunnels lined with hot-water pipes, ladders hung from trees designated good for climbing, forbidden rooftops (to be traversed only during power outages, when the electricity to the alarmed door cuts off). People have chosen their paths, like Jacob who always chooses the zigzagging path rather than the stairs even when he’s late for class, to remind himself “there are no shortcuts to life”, or Albert, who dreams of being a squirrel, and is still practicing his tree-climbing so he can make it across campus without touching ground.
As I entered the Ideologies Fair, I wondered: what would be my path?
The Randomizer was a small wooden box. My first task was to decorate it. I strung together beads of all the colors of the rainbow and gave the box a showy tail; I covered the box with blue glitter glue; I bent several paper clips to make a wire head, filled in with two eyes of fake emerald1, and added two confetti legs. It was no longer a box but a peacock. Randomizer was such a lame name, so I named him Peapocky, and hung him around my neck.
“Trevisia, you must be good at trivia! Why else would you be named so?”
After a semester and a half of failing subjects from Classical Painting to Introduction to Debate, I was desperate to find my calling.
“I’m no good at exams,” I told my roommates.
“These aren’t like exam questions. The questions in trivia nights are unusual.”
The other Uniformists waited for me as I left the lecture hall. Each Uniformist had kept track of the number of other Uniformists in their section of the lecture hall. (We were all easy to identify thanks to our identical shirts.) I had noted seven other Unis in the middle section and so had every other Uni in the middle section, so we would not leave until all seven Unis from the middle section had gathered. This ritual of waiting gives me a sense of belonging.
by Professor Whyse
The Scoop is $25/year, and it offers all the cookies you can have. Mounds and mounds of them, baked by energetic graduates (or current students) trying to make a living—working on their novels or paintings or whatnot in the daytime, baking cookies in a semi-somnolent state in the evenings. They seem especially prone to laughter.
Topic: Lisa’s conversation with Fron
Venue: The Electric Eel
LISA: Standard introduction: Fron attempts to summarize himself. His favorite theorem is the Law of Large Numbers. It resonates with his philosophy, which is that over a period of many years, a moral person will with high probability, be happier, than an immoral person, and it is also very useful in Data Science. His spirit animal is a sea turtle. He used to be an overachiever—for example, writing six pages for a five-page book report—until he joined the Uniformists. He despises frivolousness, such as the “ornaments” that were placed on the Uniformed Snowmen.
There’s no lack of coffeehouses on the Street (although they call themselves teahouses, and the coffee menu is always second. Sure, to have one person prefer tea over coffee was reasonable, but a whole society? The professors and students, I concluded, must not like being jolted out of their book-induced stupor, because then they might be encouraged to try other things as well).
by Professor Whyse
In Philosophocle, the street is lined with cafes and snackeries. Each advertises a different atmosphere. The high-class Starset has individual tables, uniformed waiters with silver-star badges, mochas drawn in the shape of maidens, and hot chocolate in tall glasses with swirly chocolate straws. The crowd-pleasing Delites offers bubble tea, self-serve yogurt machines with toppings, and mochis in tantalizing rows beneath cartoon pictures of themselves, the color of their filling leaking through their faces like a soft blush.