One day last week as I was hunting for an image I came upon an entire slide carousel with each picture numbered and all in precise order. To me this was an immediately interesting exception to the haphazard arrangement that is usual with thing humans touch. On further investigation I discovered that it was a presentation called “The Way We Are: Rice University, 1981-82.” It looks like the kind of dog-and-pony show that administrators take on the road for alumni gatherings and such. I’m not sure exactly who put it together, but it really does give us a snapshot of the way we were (or at least the way we thought we were, or possibly just the way we wanted to present ourselves even though we knew better) thirty-one years ago.
A lot of the slides are frankly boring–at least I find them so–but I suppose they’re what people expect to see: Lovett Hall, azaleas blooming along the main entrance road, students cavorting and so on. It’s been my experience that people don’t like too many surprises and it’s certainly the case that alumni enjoy being reminded of their happy times on campus.
There’s much in this presentation, though, that has become with time genuinely touching or arresting or puzzling, all things that I’m in favor of. There’s a lot to see, but I’m going to start with something that I simply don’t understand. Can someone tell me what we’re looking at here? It was both important enough to include in the presentation and ephemeral enough that I have no idea what it is. In particular, what is behind him?
Bonus: There’s an audio tape that goes with the slides. I haven’t tried it yet. (It occurs to me just now that this post could have been included in my “Obsolete Technologies” series.)
Extra bonus: The dunce caps are still up on the light poles by the Shepherd School. The scene got even more interesting today with the addition of some logs on a golf cart.