Alan Arvesen (aarvesen) wrote,
Alan Arvesen

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Back on Campus

So I did, in fact, go about the big bike trip yesterday.

Texas has a program called "TexShare" which affiliates libraries with each other. You go to your home library, such as the Austin Public Library, and get your TexShare card. Then you go to your target library, such as the University of Texas, show them your card, and they issue you a special borrowers card. Then you check stuff out. How cool is that? Go Texas.

I graduated 15 years ago. It's kind of hard to completely avoid campus since it's really part of downtown. A good portion of my jobs have been within 15 blocks of it, and Michelle has worked nearly across the street from it for the past six years. But I haven't spent a lot of time there in the past decade, and I certainly haven't spent time inside of the buildings.

Unsurprisingly, some things have changed in the big library, the PCL. The automatically-revolving-door, which was installed while I was in undergrad, has been replaced by a plain old manually-revolving-door. In the lobby, the towering hulks of card catalogs are all gone. They've managed to put in a coffee shop into the library, replacing I-don't-remember-what.

As I got my Courtesy Borrower's Card, I talked to the librarian about things that have changed. The Undergraduate Library is gone, now housing (I think) the Life Sciences library. When I reflexively began to recite my social security number for her, which was your ID for like everything, she told me that this was no longer the case, and that even grubby ex-students like me had been assigned new Electronic IDs. Well I'll be.

I managed to guess correctly which floor my book was going to be on and managed to find the catalog search. A few more clicks, and I found the stacks ("5R", I believe) that contained the books I wanted (PG38 something or other, since UT uses the Library of Congress system rather than the old-and-busted Dewey Decimal used by APL). In amongst the batched of Russian and Hebrew language books, I managed to find not only Nabakov's 2 volume (!) line-by-line (!!) and sometimes word-by-word (!!!) commentary of Eugene Onegin, but also a book devoted entirely to one character of the novel. Good Lord. I finally dug out an English language survey of EO criticism, which should be enough for my purposes.

I checked out my book and found another surprise: the road that goes between Jester and PCL doesn't actually go all the way to MLK anymore; the Blanton art museum is in the way. Ah well, good thing I was on my bike.

I started reading through the book last night, and had more uncomfortable flash backs to undergrad. It makes you realize how much bull crap there is in academia. So many catch phrases and buzzwords. I know the point is to be precise, but what you really end up with is defensive obfuscation. Am I really helped by knowing that so-and-so's critique focuses on the "structuralist" elements of the text? Naga, please.

Ah well. I had a great bike ride around the city, the weather can't be beat right now, and I felt like I had reimmersed myself in the great stream of learning. What a great day.

Now, my big choice tonight: watch the debate at 8 o'clock, or watch the Chris Rock special?
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