Joss Whedon returns to his alma mater to give the commencement speech.
If this had been my commencement speech, I might have remembered something about it. It’s nice to see someone with a tragic (in the old sense) view of life.
As it was, my commencement speaker was some history or poli sci professor from somewhere . . . I don’t remember a single thing about it. I can remember what I wore that day (Reed College did not do gowns), and that is about all.
Other classes before mine had it better. One year the Æsthetes were in charge of the committee, and they brought in Anaïs Nin, in flowing garments — speaking about Beauty, I suppose — while young Æsthetes swooned at her feet. Paperback copies of her diary were not uncommon on campus.
The next year the jocks-with-brains were in charge, and they hired Heywood Hale Broun. A sportscaster!
But it was my girlfriend’s graduation, so I went, and my expectations were upended. This guy whom I had seen on TV blathering about football and racehorses while wearing loud plaid sport coats ended up giving a straight-up-the-middle talk about the eternal verities of the liberal arts. As I recall, he actually used the phrase “eternal verities,” making it both sincere and simultaneously ironic. I learned something that day.
As for my class, I knew we arrived at a rough time for the college — how rough, I learned only later. Maybe we should just have been happy that there was still a college to gradate from four years down the road.