23 April, 2014

Eight Chapters of an Academic Life, I-II

Daddy's in work clothes!
arriving at the nursery
in white-tie and gown

fresh new faces
ask the best old questions -
Michaelmas term

1 comment:

Hobbes said...

Six Chapters of a Floating Life, translated by Lin Yutang, had a significant influence on me when I first read them. These opening haiku on a single theme have the same spirit of whimsy, where I aim for a similarly light touch. Perhaps they are, in fact, senryu rather than haiku.

The first captures my eldest son's ability to treat his father's bizarre Elizabethan "work clothes" as an entirely normal part of everyday life. I wonder as to the long-term effect on one's psyche of having two academic parents at as strange a place of work as dear Xiaohu's parents find themselves. I am often surprised by how even the strangest aspects of life can seem entirely normal, if we treat them as such.

The second "chapter" presents the moment when lecturer meets new tutees. They are fresh, everything is new, and yet the questions that they ask are familiar - old questions from new mouths. This is the reassuring constancy of the cycle of the academic year, beginning afresh every Michaelmas term, and yet so familiar.

The image that accompanies this first pair of "chapters" is of my dear eldest son, who no longer looks like a baby! He is a little boy already, now approaching four years of age, and yet his spirit is obviously unchanged from the moment in which the photograph was taken.