I suppose I am a temporary thing, thought Blurtso. The day will come when I am gone and forgotten. As if I never existed. As before I existed. In the meanwhile I’m here, standing between two oblivions, pausing to enjoy a snack, and sending a mouthful of grass… to its next oblivion.
What’s that? said Alex. It’s a reading list Bonny prepared for Harlan and my university. What’s on it? said Alex. Lots of things I’ve never heard of, said Blurtso. Read it to me, said Alex. It’s very long, said Blurtso. That’s all right, said Alex. O.k., said Blurtso, it says:
First Year – Fall Semester:
The Upanishads, The Bhagavad Gita, The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Bible, The Tao Te Ching, The Writings of Confucius, The Emerald Tablet, The Quran
First Year – Spring Semester:
The Odyssey, “Oedipus Rex,” “Iphigenia at Aulis,” Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton, Early Greek Philosophy, The Metamorphoses of Ovid, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1001 Nights
Second Year – Fall Semester:
The Poetry of Yongshu, The Poetry of Du Fu, The Poetry of Li Qingzhao, The Divine Comedy, The Decameron, The Poetry of Petrarch, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Njal’s Saga, The Canterbury Tales, The Masnavi of Rumi
Second Year – Spring Semester:
“King Lear,” “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” “Romeo and Juliet,” The Poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Don Quixote, Tartuffe, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, The Biography of Benjamin Franklin, The Farmer’s Almanac, Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
Third Year – Fall Semester:
Selected Poems of Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats, Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice, The Poetry and Prose of Edgar Allan Poe, Les Fleurs du Mal, The Origin of Species, Crime and Punishment, Notes from the Underground, Huckleberry Finn, Leaves of Grass, Goethe’s Faust
Third Year – Spring Semester:
Les Misérables, Moby Dick, Walden, The Doll’s House, The Poetry and Prose of José Martí, Selected Poems of Rubén Darío, Selected Poetry of William Butler Yeats, Poemas Humanos of César Vallejo, The Poems of T.S. Elliot, “The Penal Colony” by Franz Kafka
Fourth Year – Fall Semester:
Einstein’s Universe by Nigel Calder, Mein Kampf, The Stories of Jorge Luis Borges, The Heart of Darkness, Waiting for Godot, No Exit, 1984, Animal Farm, Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda, Man, Woman, and Nature by Alan Watts
Fourth Year – Spring Semester:
The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, Giovanni’s Room, Slaughterhouse Five, The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Things Fall Apart, The Adventures of Captain Harvey, Blurtseau Lundif – Corsaire Extraordinaire, The Poems of Blurtso Lundif.
That’s a good list, said Alex, but I would add one more. What’s that? said Blurtso. The Baseball Encyclopedia, said Alex.
A university? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, and we need another professor. What would I teach? said Pablo. You’d teach Where-101. Is that, said Pablo, a class about gardening? It can be, said Blurtso, as long as the questions begin with “where.” How many days does it meet? said Pablo. Once a week, said Blurtso. O.k., said Pablo. And what about me? said Bonny. What would you like to teach? said Blurtso. I don’t know, said Bonny, maybe a reading class. Reading? said Blurtso. Yes, said Bonny, what are your students going to read? Nothing, said Blurtso, we’re just going to talk. If your students read something, said Bonny, the discussions will be more interesting. You may be right, said Blurtso, what do you suggest? I’ll prepare a list of great books, said Bonny, and get them from the library. Great! said Blurtso.
What about the curriculum? said Blurtso. I think we should offer one class per year in each of the six subjects. I agree, said Blurtso, in the fall we can offer What-101, Where-101, and Who-101, and in the spring we can offer How-101, When-101, and Why-101. How many classes do you want to teach? said Harlan. One per semester, said Blurtso. Me too, said Harlan. Maybe we could get Pablo to teach a class, said Blurtso. That would be perfect, said Harlan. Great, said Blurtso, I’ll see if he’s interested.
What do you think, said Harlan, of the logo for our university?
Weohryant? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan, pronounced “we-orient.” What does it mean? said Blurtso. It’s a word, said Harlan, made up of all the different letters in the question words “what, where, who, how, when, why”, and it’s also a combination of “we” (short for “west”) and “ohryant” (orient or “east”). And, said Blurtso, it combines U (you) and WE, which gives our university an inclusive feel. Exactly, said Harlan. What, said Blurtso, is that Roman numeral. That, said Harlan, can either be read as 967 (1000 – 33) or 33,000. Which is it? said Blurtso. It really doesn’t matter, said Harlan, as long as it expresses a sense of tradition and substance, but 33,000 B.C. is an approximate date for the beginning of written language on earth. I like it, said Blurtso, and the donkey looks attentive and energetic, while the elephant looks very professorial.
Get your official Weohryant sweatshirt at blurtsobarn
The house is very empty since I moved into the barn, said Blurtso. Why did you move? said Harlan. It was cozier, said Blurtso. Classes start next week, said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, it’s too bad Harvard isn’t more like this. Like this? said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, just sitting around talking. It’s sort like that, said Harlan. Yes, said Blurtso, but I’d prefer something less rigid, with smaller classes. How much smaller? I don’t know, said Blurtso, maybe five or six students, just sitting around talking, maybe answering some questions. What kind of questions? said Harlan. Any kind, said Blurtso. How about yes/no questions? said Harlan. No, said Blurtso, those are too limiting. How about the 5 w’s and 1 h questions? said Harlan. What? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan, “what” is the first of the w questions. It is? said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan, the 5 w’s are “what, who, when, where, why,” and the h question is “how.” Why, said Blurtso, don’t they call them the 6 w&h questions? That’s a good question, said Harlan. See what I mean, said Blurtso, why can’t there be a university where students just sit around talking like we are? I suppose there can, said Harlan. How? said Blurtso. We could start one ourselves, said Harlan. A university? said Blurtso. Sure, said Harlan. Where? said Blurtso. Anywhere, said Harlan, here in the house, or in the barn, or in the park. Who would teach the classes? said Blurtso. We would, said Harlan. I like it! said Blurtso. When can we start? We can start right now, said Harlan. Let’s do it! said Blurtso.
“Drifting through time and space on the face of a little blue ball falling around the sun—one in a million, billion, twinkling lights shining out for no one. Here we are, sparks in the darkness, speaking of our love, burning down forever and forever. And though we are as nothing to the stars that shine above, you are my universe, you are my love. Here we are, like children forever, taking care of one another, while the world goes on without us, all around us.” – James Taylor