Core courses create 'intellectuals'
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Late in the summer of 1999, I drove to the post office in the afternoon to pick up the mail. That day yielded yet another letter from the University, a sight I had become accustomed to. This time it was from the school of Arts and Letters, my highly respected college. Little did I know I had been waiting for this letter all my life, for it would truly mark a turning point. I got home thinking nothing of the letter as I had received much of the same throughout the summer months. After an hour or two, I decided I should probably look at what I was going to throw away. I opened the letter and saw the Core. The previous spring I had DARTed into this class, as it was required by my college. All I had heard about it was that it was a lot of reading and writing, and I figured I could deal with that. I just figured the material was whatever the particular teacher chose to teach. However, what this letter told me was beyond my wildest dreams. It had finally happened — I was to become an Intellectual.
I think the rest of the Core students would support me in their extreme and unabashed excitement at learning about this news. When I was a little kid, my mom told me about this elite group — the Intellectuals. She said few were chosen to even attempt this grand honor. First, they must go through approximately nine months of rigorous testing organized by a committee of only the highest Intellectuals the actual testing conducted by their family and friends. The task of the pre-Intellectual was a daunting one — they were to gather together articles, novels, memoirs, lectures, nude drawings, etc. and synthesize them into one. They were to figure out why the committee figured all these should be studied together. Furthermore, they were only given a few days for each source.
This was vital, however, for to an intellectual the meaning of "Frankenstein" and "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" were as clear as their relation to Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was. The pre-Intellectual's progress was vigorously monitored by the instructors and reported regularly to the committee. There were weekly meetings, which often lasted hours due to the fact that instructors are made to bow to the committee upon entrance. Also, every meeting a report would be made of an unenlightened infiltrator trying to end the age of the Intellectual. These people were required to attend a Shakespeare at the Movies lecture and were always quiet thereafter. Only the strongest survived.
I guaranteed my mom I'd be one of them.
To be honest, I could barely contain my excitement the first day of class. I eagerly looked around the room at the other 15-17 faces in the discussion room. What an intimate and personal atmosphere, I thought to myself. This would prove great for intellectual discussion. I enjoyed just saying the word, even spelling it: I-N-T-E-L-L-E-C-T-U-A-L.
I dreamed of the days when I would be an Intellectual and people would be able to tell simply from the way I talked. My mom sure would be proud. I would be able to relate any piece of popular culture to another with ease. Holden Caulfield would be the literary soulmate of Hester Prynne, Malcolm X would be the alter ego of Heinrich Himmler, and Victor Frankenstein would be a Christ figure. No one would be able to stop me. As these things ran through my mind, I received the syllabus and was amazed. Everything was there. I could plan my whole semester of Core so as to get all my other work done to have plenty of time to read the books, attend the lectures, go to the screenings and attend a play. It was even better than I imagined. I could already feel myself becoming enlightened.
It is now November and, needless to say, Core has been an absolute treat. I don't know what my life would be without it. I never imagined I would be able to dig so deep into a book only reading portions of it. I have begun only reading portions of books in all my classes, and I find it a true art. My comprehension is through the roof, and I am pulling out ideas that are over most of my teacher's heads — I guess they're just not Intellectuals. As it is now, I think I've been getting good reports to the committee, and I honestly feel that I am ready to move on to the second semester of the Core program — the last stop before the gold at the end of the rainbow.
Only a few of those who go to Notre Dame, those students of the Core program, truly experience the luck of the Irish and their reward: becoming an Intellectual.
November 16, 1999
All Viewpoint Stories for Wednesday, November 17, 1999