Monday, April 02, 2012
An academic institution is, to me, a select club, difficult to join, steeped in ritual, elitist, innovative, selective and channelled. It is a place where cloistered brains reside and knowledge distributed.
It is also an institution that I would never have been able to enter, even if the 2nd World War had not arrived at a vital time in my education.
Academic language, and the way it is used, is hard for me to encompass. In fact, I find its “in-language” close to being an alien method of expression.
Although I took 25 years away from painting and sculpture to write books and articles, I still would not have had it in me to then write a good academic paper.
My wife, Margreet, has just been awarded a BSc. from the Open University. I would love to have been able to help her in her studies. Except for checking for the odd typographical error I was useless in any way other than to offer encouragement.
It was with enormous pride in my heart that we went to the degree presentation ceremony at The Barbican Centre in London.
Beautifully organised, Margreet was robed in fetching black, blue and yellow, photographed wearing a mortarboard, had her name announced to much clapping and cheering, and then presented to Lord Puttnam, Chancellor of the University.
The seriousness of years of study, tutorials, submitted papers, research and reading (all done when she was still working for the Dutch Foreign Service), culminated in this day of splendid accomplishment and sheer joy.
The clapping and cheering of families helped to dissolve the serious panoply of academia to become, for all graduates, relaxed expressions of outward joyfulness and proud inner feelings of a job well done. More than one tear ran down a cheek.
We needed a good lunch after that.