LETTERS

  /  

October 30, 2009

All that clutters is not gold

Besides the important things arbitrarily decided by the University Administration, the new campus walkways are not all they are cracking up to be.

Besides the important things arbitrarily decided by the University Administration, such as the dismantling of the Social Science graduate program or the creation of the Milton Friedman Institute (together with the denial of the faculty’s right to vote on the matter), the new campus walkways are not all they are cracking up to be. Perhaps they are designed to trip up cantankerous emeritus professors. Still, they do put the finishing touches on the over-the-top, all-that-clutters-is-not-gold botanical festooning of the campus initiated by former president Hugo Sonnenschein. Apparently designed by cemetery landscape architects, and costing much more than the community women’s clinic snuffed by the Administration last spring on financial grounds, the new campus work sponsored by our last two alter-Hugos confirms a point made long ago by Thorsten Veblen: that the Captains of Erudition are habitually disposed to perplexing feats of decorative display with the aim of dazzling the public into a conviction of high academic worth. The greater costs are intellectual and moral.

Marshall Sahlins, Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Social Sciences in the College.