universityoflies

roasting marshmellows in phd hell

In Memoriam

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I just found out that My Favorite Undergrad Professor died.

MFUP was such a caring person, a thoughtful scholar, an inspirational teacher.  Exactly the kind of person the world needs more of.

and ze was too fucking young to die.

Hir facebook page is filling with tributes from friends, family, former students, and colleagues across the world.  People posting lines of poems and sharing memories and photos.  I’m not too sure how I feel about the facebook memorials, they usually weird me out, tbh.  But it is beautiful to see what an impact ze had on so many lives.  I hope hir family is able to take some kind of comfort from it.

I’m half sick of shadows…

I keep trying to think of some kind of fitting tribute, some nice way to phrase all of the wonderful memories I have of MFUP, hir tremendous kindness, intellect, and sense of humor.  But I don’t feel too articulate right now.

I am just so sad for the loss to this world, and so angry at the randomness of the everything.  I wish shit was different and that MFUP had the gift of a long long long life.  It makes me sick that Billy Joel was right-for every tragic young death, there are 87 montgomery burnses and they are all douches.  I wish I was grand czar of everything and then I’d institute some kind of reason for things.

Life is so. fucking. short.  We aren’t guaranteed or owed anything.

Most of the time, we are so consumed with everyday bullshit, caught up in the delusion that our lives matter and are important in some grand cosmic scheme.  When in reality, we are just tiny tiny tiny little fucking specks, spinning away on one tiny planet.

So in memoriam, here is one of MFUP’s favorite poems.  A good reminder to live while we have the chance.

A Grammarian’s Funeral.  Robert Browning

Let us begin and carry up this corpse,
Singing together.
Leave we the common crofts, the vulgar thorpes
Each in its tether
Sleeping safe on the bosom of the plain,
Cared-for till cock-crow:
Look out if yonder be not day again
Rimming the rock-row!
That’s the appropriate country; there, man’s thought,
Rarer, intenser,
Self-gathered for an outbreak, as it ought,
Chafes in the censer.
Leave we the unlettered plain its herd and crop;
Seek we sepulture
On a tall mountain, citied to the top,
Crowded with culture!
All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;
Clouds overcome it;
No! yonder sparkle is the citadel’s
Circling its summit.
Thither our path lies; wind we up the heights:
Wait ye the warning?
Our low life was the level’s and the night’s;
He’s for the morning.
Step to a tune, square chests, erect each head,
‘Ware the beholders!
This is our master, famous calm and dead,
Borne on our shoulders.

Sleep, crop and herd! sleep, darkling thorpe and croft,
Safe from the weather!
He, whom we convoy to his grave aloft,
Singing together,
He was a man born with thy face and throat,
Lyric Apollo!
Long he lived nameless: how should spring take note
Winter would follow?
Till lo, the little touch, and youth was gone!
Cramped and diminished,
Moaned he, “New measures, other feet anon!
“My dance is finished?”
No, that’s the world’s way: (keep the mountain-side,
Make for the city!)
He knew the signal, and stepped on with pride
Over men’s pity;
Left play for work, and grappled with the world
Bent on escaping:
“What’s in the scroll,” quoth he, “thou keepest furled?
“Show me their shaping,
“Theirs who most studied man, the bard and sage,—
“Give!”—So, he gowned him,
Straight got by heart that hook to its last page:
Learned, we found him.
Yea, but we found him bald too, eyes like lead,
Accents uncertain:
“Time to taste life,” another would have said,
“Up with the curtain!”
This man said rather, “Actual life comes next?
“Patience a moment!
“Grant I have mastered learning’s crabbed text,
“Still there’s the comment.
“Let me know all! Prate not of most or least,
“Painful or easy!
“Even to the crumbs I’d fain eat up the feast,
“Ay, nor feel queasy.”
Oh, such a life as he resolved to live,
When he had learned it,
When he had gathered all books had to give!
Sooner, he spurned it.
Image the whole, then execute the parts—
Fancy the fabric
Quite, ere you build, ere steel strike fire from quartz,
Ere mortar dab brick!

(Here’s the town-gate reached: there’s the market-place
Gaping before us.)
Yea, this in him was the peculiar grace
(Hearten our chorus!)
That before living he’d learn how to live—
No end to learning:
Earn the means first—God surely will contrive
Use for our earning.
Others mistrust and say, “But time escapes:
“Live now or never!”
He said, “What’s time? Leave Now for dogs and apes!
“Man has Forever.”
Back to his book then: deeper drooped his head
_Calculus_ racked him:
Leaden before, his eyes grew dross of lead:
_Tussis_ attacked him.
“Now, master, take a little rest!”—not he!
(Caution redoubled,
Step two abreast, the way winds narrowly!)
Not a whit troubled
Back to his studies, fresher than at first,
Fierce as a dragon
He (soul-hydroptic with a sacred thirst)
Sucked at the flagon.

Oh, if we draw a circle premature,
Heedless of far gain,
Greedy for quick returns of profit, sure
Bad is our bargain!
Was it not great? did not he throw on God,
(He loves the burthen)—
God’s task to make the heavenly period
Perfect the earthen?
Did not he magnify the mind, show clear
Just what it all meant?
He would not discount life, as fools do here,
Paid by instalment.
He ventured neck or nothing—heaven’s success
Found, or earth’s failure:
“Wilt thou trust death or not?” He answered “Yes:
“Hence with life’s pale lure!”
That low man seeks a little thing to do,
Sees it and does it:
This high man, with a great thing to pursue,
Dies ere he knows it.
That low man goes on adding nine to one,
His hundred’s soon hit:
This high man, aiming at a million,
Misses an unit.
That, has the world here—should he need the next,
Let the world mind him!
This, throws himself on God, and unperplexed
Seeking shall find him.
So, with the throttling hands of death at strife,
Ground he at grammar;
Still, thro’ the rattle, parts of speech were rife:
While he could stammer
He settled _Hoti’s_ business—let it be!—
Properly based _Oun_—
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic _De_,
Dead from the waist down.
Well, here’s the platform, here’s the proper place:
Hail to your purlieus,
All ye highfliers of the feathered race,
Swallows and curlews!
Here’s the top-peak; the multitude below
Live, for they can, there:
This man decided not to Live but Know—
Bury this man there?
Here—here’s his place, where meteors shoot, clouds form,
Lightnings are loosened,
Stars come and go! Let joy break with the storm,
Peace let the dew send!
Lofty designs must close in like effects
Loftily lying,
Leave him—still loftier than the world suspects,
Living and dying.

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Written by universityoflies

May 12, 2012 at 19:03

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