Contributing opinion writer
Henry A. Cerbone
Thomas Nagel, an American philosopher, has coined the idea of a “view from nowhere.” In short, the trouble with existential objectivity is that you can never get to an objective viewpoint. To do this, you would need to get to a view from nowhere, separate from your existence.
Something I have learned from many people who hire me as a photographer is that most people in modern times, respect photographers for knowing what is worth photographing. The role of a photographer is not simply to capture an image. Instead, one must notice the lighting, the background, the camera settings, the subject(s), and a milieu of other factors.
The motivation for this kind of study is the awe and wonder that can be felt standing at the edge of my river. Or the feeling of amazement when you complete a math proof. Or when you finish a breathtaking novel. There is not a set list of forms of Nature study. You will not find it as an addendum to your university’s course of study listing.
What is more inexpensive and quickly procurable than a discussion with a friend? A, hopefully humorous, shared obsession over something nonsensical. A degree of whimsy is a necessary addition to life might be an apt rephrasing of Murdoch’s advice.
It is no easy task to come to oneself. In many ways, we are encouraged by our surroundings to wait for the waiting. As with many things, there is an act of balancing. Sometimes we need to wait, sometimes wait to wait. Sometimes we should be excited to wait for Christmas to come.
There are many ants that are unnoticed, yet they are everywhere. Start noticing them. I am not here to tell you what to go find out or what to notice, just that you notice something. And if you are lucky, you’ll find a story worth telling, an inordinate fondness of your own.
When we go forth and define what it means to be the parents of legacy children, we have the opportunity to foster lonely thinkers and wonder-ers. To share delight over compendiums of ants, mathematics textbooks, treatises on human anatomy, accounts of the French Revolution, economic studies of ancient Rome. There are flaws that can be found in our institution, and more flaws that can be found in the world at large as a result of its graduates. However, the kindling of joy around creating and sharing knowledge must prevail as the defining meaning and legacy of Harvard College.