The sun has come out to play this morning. It’s Easter Monday and April Fool’s Day. The weather played tricks for parts of the day, raining, then parting clouds for a warm sun, then raining and doing it all over again.
I wrote fiction for a few hours in the morning before venturing out where I found myself in the campus of Yale. I’ve never been here before and it was a real treat. The area reminds me a little of Queen’s University in Belfast with its smattering of gothic architecture, but what really does it for me is the New England flair of windows and brick buildings. Throw in some stone, inscribe it with names to whom buildings are dedicated, oh, let’s say for instance bozillionaire William Henry Vanderbilt, and you have yourself one shit-ton of culture I tell you what. It struck me as wholly civilised and downright intimate to name a building after a living person rather than a corporation oh, let’s say New York Central and Hudson River Railroad; a cynical practice we’re quite familiar with today, unless of course your name is Trump, then it’s a trump card. You’ll see what I did there.
The gentle, quiet spaces of knowledge in the Yale campus are as plain as the grass on the ground, but there is a special quality about the place. I am curiously ignorant for one, as to why there are little stones placed with apparent purpose at the feet of Nathan Hale, or why on earth a bicycle helmet laid stranded below him, unclaimed. If this were Queen’s in Belfast, it would be attached to a youth’s closed hand and swung as a comedy weapon within moments of its owner’s loss.
For reasons unknown I was then up front with a certain linguistic curio: a single letter distinguishes learning from earning. As stated, I am an ignorant clod in particular instances and in this matter I shall abide. Many of us are aware of a stereotype concerning the Ivy League; young, eager, and power-hungry, the offspring of the wealthy élite, the future rulers and kings of hidden worlds, secret societies and law courts, the business leaders, governors and presidents of the future. There is room for both hyperbole and truth in the former musing, but it strikes me in a sudden that it’s no wonder we put so much emphasis on learning and earning, when they’re practically the same word. It’s a stretch of imagination of course, and only serves to stimulate the gears of rumination, but there is something to be upheld: imagine if learning were put to better use more often — for the good of the world and not profit of the few. At Nathan Hale’s feet you can read “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” If ever there was a prize for selfless expression, this must surely come in the top ten.
Again, I am ignorant of such matters and I don’t think anyone here in Yale is planning on burning the elderly for fuel, but it’s worth remembering and reiterating that knowledge is useful to us all — precious to be sure, and should be safeguarded — but it’s a shame that in our world, ‘smarts’ can be (and have been) used to denigrate the peacefully ignorant.
I sat in a vegetarian café and wrote a poem, then returned to my room and typed things.