A fresh seed

There aren’t many places more empty than a college  campus on a Saturday afternoon in mid-May, a few days after commencement. Ambling in the pleasing solitude of Vanderbilt’s deserted campus yesterday I once again confronted Emily Dickinson’s unexpected Brain poem about the power of imagination

The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—

It’s chiseled in the outer facade of Buttrick Hall, a building whose normal occupants are not, so far as I am aware, particularly engaged with issues in neuroscience or consciousness studies or even plain-wrapper philosophy. But step inside and you find other surprising words cast in stone, including these attributed to Wittgenstein:

“A new word is like a fresh seed sown on the ground of the discussion.”

Sure it is, I guess. OK. (I wonder if he said that just before he tried to brain Karl Popper with the poker?)

Buttrick Hall, I’ve been told, was the site of a scene filmed for the Miley Cyrus “Hannah Montana” movie. Maybe they should etch something of hers into the building? (“POP IT LOCK IT POLKA DOT IT…”)

Which reminds me of the time I went “four-wheelin” with her Dad, back when Miley was still just a smiley little toddler. But I’ll save that story for now. Like cryptic quotations set in stone, it benefits from imaginative speculation.


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One Response to “A fresh seed”

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