Saturday, June 16, 2007
In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen
What an odd thing a diploma is! I just received my diploma in the mail (b/c Columbia does not give it to you on the actual day of graduation--not that I actually attended graduation anyway), and I have found several aspects of it perplexing. For instance, the entire thing reads as follows: "The trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York to all persons to whom these presents ma come greeting be it known that Jared C. Calaway having completed the studies and satisfied the requirements for the degree of master of philosophy has accordingly been admitted to that degree with all the rights privileges and immunities thereunto appertaining in witness whereof we have cause our corporate seal to be here affixed in the city of New York on the sixteenth day of May in the year two thousand and seven" Other than the complete lack of punctuation (do commas and periods make it look less formal?), I am wondering what exact immunities I now have. For that matter, what privileges. I understand the privileges of a BA, and MA, and even a PhD, but what are the privileges of an MPhil? Finally, I must admit that I have never looked at the school seal very closely before, but it, too, is very curious. Most of it is in Latin, but there are a few parts of it in Hebrew. If your Latin is a bit shaky, the motto on the seal (which is the title of this posting), translates as "In your light we see light." In case there is any mistake concerning whose light this is, in Hebrew one sees at the very apex of the seal the tetragrammatron, YHWH, and proceeding from this tetragrammatron are rays of light. I am guessing that this light represents knowledge/scientia/gnosis. But, also relying upon a very important tradition in Jewish and Christian literature, often characteried as mystical, what if we represented the apex as a dark cloud of unknowing?