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The Point', St. Benedict Center, 1952 Wrote:Thoughts to add to a Harvard Commencement

On June 19, Harvard College held its annual commencement exercises. On that day, the graduating class of 1952, having been presented with diplomas in testimony of four years of faithful discipleship, was spewed out into the world, to put into practice the lessons it had learned at Harvard.

A large part of this class of ’52, like all Harvard classes, will end up as alcoholics, drug-addicts, and suicides; but another large part, to some extent overlapping the first, will end up in the most influential positions in the country: as the officials and policy-makers in our government, as the writers of our books, and the editors of our newspapers, as the teachers of our children. All of these Harvard graduates, whoever and wherever they may be, can be relied upon to have this in common: they will all think, feel and act according to the prescribed Harvard pattern, which they will attempt to impose upon the rest of the world.

Harvard makes a great commotion about how it encourages freedom of opinions; and while it is true that Harvard allows its students the kind of freedom in choosing their intellectual diet that a farmer allows his hogs, still, no matter what variety of swill a student may feed his mind on during his four years, he comes out unmistakably branded with the same mark as every other Harvard student.

The reason for this is that Harvard is fundamentally mediocre. The only thing that distinguishes it from the rest of mediocrity is the influence it commands by reason of its wealth, power, and prestige. It is mediocrity organized and made effective. But it is mediocrity nonetheless. That is Harvard’s milieu, its climate, and it cannot get away from it. For the doctrines that Harvard has committed itself to teach are the doctrines that mediocrity has made and that it thrives on.

Whatever might lift a man out of the class of the mediocre Harvard teaches its students to avoid, by making it appear ridiculous or unimportant. It teaches them to be suspicious of greatness, fearful of courage, scornful of holiness. It teaches its students to revel in their second-rateness; it teaches them to be smug, complacent, and self-satisfied. It pretends to foster individuality, but the individuality of Harvard is the same in every individual. If a boy were ever to realize himself as a person, unique and to endure forever, he might revolt against this mediocrity, and so Harvard teaches him his insignificance. It tells him he is in existence by sheerest chance, helplessly determined by his environment, a descendant of apes, one of billions who have lived over billions of years on an unimportant planet of an unimportant universe, a structure of atoms accidentally gotten together, likely to be destroyed at any moment by the explosion of other atoms, and then to be gone forever.

Harvard is just as cheap and vulgar as any daily tabloid. It has a more refined vocabulary, but its interests are exactly the same. What the newspaper presents as a sensational bit of scandal, Harvard presents as a case history in psychology. As for Harvard’s pretenses to culture, they are as fraudulent as Hollywood’s. Harvard will teach its students to laugh at American millionaires who import castles from Italy in which to have their cocktail parties, or who hang Renaissance paintings on their walls to give their homes an air of refinement. But Harvard itself will import anything it has read about in history, in an effort to give the place a tone, and is blissfully unaware, as only an American bourgeois can be, of the grotesque contrasts that result. For instance, Soldier’s Field, where the Harvard band forms itself into big H’s while blaring “Wintergreen for President” and where the Harvard football team gets trounced by Yale, is modeled on the Roman Colosseum, where Christians once were martyred for their Faith.

The courses at Harvard, which the students refer to familiarly as ec, gov, phil, lit, etc., present either a hopelessly superficial survey of some subject, or else encourage the student to blind, intense specialization. “Sorry, that’s not my field,” is a frequently heard Harvard expression, offered as excuse for anything from not knowing the chemical structure of coal to not knowing that God has become man. The Harvard faculty includes such men as Pitirim Sorokin, a mad Russian who periodically, and in scarcely understandable English, assails the rest of the faculty and the world in general for their failure to adopt his sociological theories. Ernest Hooton is another Harvard teacher who receives great kudos. He is a somewhat simian anthropologist who, to amuse his friends, named his son Newton. Hooton’s task is to convince his students that all men originally descended from creatures like himself.

Probably the most representative of all Harvard teachers is the late F. O. Matthiessen, who was professor of History and Literature. He exemplified perfectly the kind of man Harvard likes to boast of and to hold up to its students for their admiration and imitation: he was literate, liberal, agnostic, and successful. But one night he took a room in a Boston hotel, wrote a note telling of his pique at the state of the world, and then stepped from his twelfth floor window.

Harvard had considered Matthiessen’s brains one of its most valuable assets, and it was upset to find them splashed vulgarly across a Boston pavement. To cover up for this disgrace, Harvard organized an association that would give perpetual honor to Matthiessen’s name and his ideas. The ultimate comment, however, the summing-up of both Matthiessen and Harvard, was provided by John Ciardi, an Italian apostate in the Harvard English department. Asked for a statement by the Boston newspapers the morning after Matthiessen’s suicide leap, Ciardi, striking a literary pose, remarked, “At times like these, one finds oneself on the edge of things.”

I'm impressed by the harsh criticism here of a local suicide.  It seems our liberal culture thinks of suicide as yet another human right, and even somewhat romantic.
Who the hell is the author to think he can judge an entire class in total?

What do you object to exactly, Someone?
That's some solid writing.
Whew!!  Now I'm glad I went to Yale.  LOL
(01-19-2013, 12:52 PM)Knight Hospitaller Wrote: [ -> ]Whew!!  Now I'm glad I went to Yale.  LOL

... and I'm equally glad I only went to University of Toronto!
(01-19-2013, 02:07 AM)Someone1776 Wrote: [ -> ]Who the hell is the author to think he can judge an entire class in total?

But total judgment on the basis of class is a Harvard specialty!