Can you blame freshmen for wanting to avoid writing-heavy concentrations when their introduction to scholarly writing at the collegiate level is almost uniformly painful? There are, of course, good arguments in favor of Expos. Harvard students come from such a wide variety of educational, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds that there is a genuine need for a single course to establish some common ground.
By far the most remarkable show I saw was a retrospective of Lucian Freud’s portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. Freud, who died just last year, was by far the most influential British painter of his lifetime, and as far as I know, no one has stepped up to fill the admittedly enormous shoes he has left behind. The exhibition charts his work chronologically, moving from the far more whimsical and stylized portraits of his first wife, Kitty Garman, to the remarkably luxuriant depictions of the obese social worker Sue Tilley, who famously came to be called “Big Sue.”
To repudiate financial motives so thoroughly one must either already be quite well-off or truly devoted to lofty artistic ideals at the expense of material comfort. Needless to say, at Harvard I find the former to be the case more frequently. This is not to say that those who choose to pursue financially unrewarding careers in arts are all rich brats—far from it. I have nothing but admiration for those who prioritize artistic fulfillment over financial security. It is just to say that it is a lot easier to condemn careers in finance or management consulting if you don’t have to worry about paying bills.
But as soon as the words were out of my mouth I felt guilty—not because I had been rude to the security guard (What right did he have to comment on my eyewear, anyway?), but because I had lied. I lied not about my eyesight—yes, my myopia really is that severe—but about the reasons I wear thick frames. Who am I kidding? Just because I’m almost blind in one eye doesn’t mean I have to go around with frames as thick as Velma’s. Thankfully, technology has advanced enough to allow large visual correction with relatively slender lenses. Indeed, technology has advanced so far that, if I wanted to, I could chuck my glasses out the window and get laser eye surgery for as little as $299 an eye, according to Google ads.