Sitting long hours in the classroom arouses in me the restlessness that was the bane, or perhaps the blessing of my childhood: when will I be let out? Eventually the discussion catches my attention, but first there is the longing for the open road that I first encountered, in fiction, in Kenneth Grahame’s delicious The Wind in the Willows.
Fifteen years ago, when I first encountered Plato’s teachings at St. John’s College here, I railed against them. My mother used to call this, “Kicking against the pricks,” no pun intended.
Today I’m beginning to realize that this curriculum, based on the Great Books, a system devised in the 1940’s to encompass the whole of a gentleman’s essential library, reveals the base-the stones-on which we all stand.
I’m trying, with a good deal of anxiety, to put together what I know and believe with the suppositions and proofs of the ancient Greek philosophers. They use a language and a way of thinking, totally abstract—almost—that is as foreign to me as the abstruse calculations each member of my class must write, from memory, on the blackboard.