So, I started actually filling in on-line apps today. Berkeley wants a "Personal History Statement:"
Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.
In a few words of one syllable: it doesn't, I haven't, I don't, I haven't, and it doesn't. Thank you, Berkeley, for making me feel even worse about the utility of what I study, and even more guilty about my apathy when it comes to practical matters.
On the other hand, I got proselytized this morning. I was baking muffins when the mysterious car pulled into the driveway, but since it's parents' weekend, I assumed someone was about to get picked up. And it was a little weird when the people who got out were an elderly man and a younger man (maybe a little older than I am), but since I'm sort of stupid, I didn't realize that they weren't parents until I noticed the Bible and the sheaf of tracts. And when the older man said "I see you're cooking breakfast" in a weird and fake-jovial voice, and then told me that he thought I would be interested in an article about Successful Families. I said that this was student housing, and we weren't interested, and he said, "oh, but it's for all kinds of people," and I told him that "really, we aren't interested" and sort of shoved them out of the doorway. And that was the end. Not very exciting, and yet, sort of exciting.
Also, someone just put a giant cardboard cut-out of Galbatorix in our kitchen (disclosure: it said "Eragon" at the bottom, which is how I knew it was an Eragon character, but I then identified Galbatorix on my own. Yes: I've read the first one.) and it keeps scaring me whenever I go out to make tea.
Thirdly, I downloaded a 1920's dissertation the other day for the Latin Paper that I Won't Actually Be Writing, Now, and it's all in Latin and is ADORABLE! There is one bit where he pulls out a Greek tag, and says "ut potius lingua Graeca quam nostra utar" (if I may use the Greek language, rather than ours). It's so cute. I want to be able to say that Latin is "my" language.
But the best part is the last page, which is a little CV that I shall quote in full:
Natus sum Paulus Joannes Guilelmus Kempe a.d. III non.Nov. anno 1897 in Pomeraniae oppido, cui nomen est Koeclin, patre Ernesto, matre Augusta e gente Mueller, quibus vivis salvisque vehementer gaudeo. Fidei addictus sum evangelicae.
Primis litterarum elementis imbutus ab anno 1908 patrio in oppido gymnasium regium adii, ubi maturitatis testimonium adeptus sum. Vere anni 1916 libens arma cepi ad patriam defendendam. Graviiter vulneratus paulo ante finem belli stipendiis relictis ab autumno anni 1918 Berolinensem frequentavi universitatem ibique studiis inprimis philologicae incubui. Inde mense Ianuario anni 1920 Gryphiam me contuli iisdem litteris operam daturus.
I was born Paul John William Kempe on the fifth of November, 1897, in the Pomerianian town of Koeclin, my father being Ernest and my mother Augusta of the Mueller family, in whom I rejoice greatly that they are alive and well. I am devoted to the evangelical faith.
Given the first elements of letters, I went to the Royal Gymnasium in my home town from the year 1908, where I achieved a diploma. In the spring of 1916 I freely took up arms to defend my homeland. Severely wounded a little before the end of the war, I attended Berlin University from the autumn of 1918 with the pension left to me, and here I dwelt on philological studies above all. From there, in January 1920 I took myself to Gryphia to study those same letters.
It may be because I am thinking a lot about "personal statements" these days, and because I just read A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book
, which ends with a lot of bright young things encountering WWI, but there is something v. touching about it. The emphasis on his parents, the note that he enlisted, and wasn't conscripted into the army -- these are probably standard phrases that aren't being used out of any particular feeling but because they are conventional. But nevertheless, there's a whole story there about a young soldier in the war who came home and wrote his dissertation on metric clausula in Petronius.