Friday, May 27, 2011

I miss college.

Technically, I'm in college, but it's just not the same. With this degree, I'm really doing it because I need it for job purposes, but not because I'm in love with the subject material or I feel like it's inspiring.

I'm talking about the college where my brain could actually hurt after a hard class because I could literally feel myself thinking on a different plane. That may sound ridiculous, but there were certain professors I can never, ever forget because they made an indelible mark on how I think.

One professor, who was very exacting of his students and passionate about his work, finally made me understand the deal with Shakespeare. (I had always thought of him as a mediocre entertainer, kind of like the Real Housewives of his time.) This professor pulled out the tiniest sections of his plays, spending some lectures on just one single word, and showing the infinite meanings that could be pulled out.

Or the professor who sat at the table in our small class, her hair always in a messy bun. She was very slight and petite, blonde, but she seemed larger than life when she took over a class. She would still be incredibly small, almost folding into herself, but her eyes were incredibly sharp. I would call her an educational sniper, actually. It was almost like she tried to make herself as small as possible physically until she was just a pair of eyes behind her thick-rimmed glasses. She would push you to think. She made us read about the beginnings of psychology in France and how scent, which really plays such a huge role in life, is always expunged from the history books. How different would the story of the French Revolution be if you could smell the narrow streets lined with human waste and yeast for baking? How different a world is it when Napoleon's architect, Haussmann, designed boulevards meant to stop rebels from blockading the roads but instead created a new culture of "see and be seen"?

I miss this- I miss being around people who made you feel smarter than you are just by being near them. I just finished Reading Lolita in Tehran and it brought up all this nostalgia. I love this book; it's about two of my favorite things- daily life in the Middle East, particularly from a woman's perspective, and literary analysis. The author was a  professor of Eng. Lit. in Iran and her experience of the Regime is linked with the classes she taught- I love to see her compare Austen's heroines, who rebel against societal rules but still work within its confines, to how her own students find small ways to rebel (one girl wears nail polish, another finds strength and solidarity during the time she spent in jail) under sharia law.

She makes me want to be brave and smart and, maybe inadvertently, nostalgic.

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