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?

10 comments:

Jared said...

For a history of the diploma and an explanation of the school seal, see http://www.columbia.edu/cu/diploma/history.html

paideia said...

if they actually had library carrels, that would be one privilege :-)

perhaps the lack of punctuation is just an imitation of ancient greek? [unlikely]

JD said...

Thought I'd stop by. That seal is strange. Having altered the diploma, I wonder whether the doctoral gown is next.... That's probably too much?

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Jared said...

I think the gown is set...it has a nice grotesque quality to it...and it is a great equalizer--it makes everyone look equally bad.

JD said...

To be sure. I'm just a little surprised that it hasn't caused them to rethink it. You know, it kinda looks like a deck of cards wearing a women's bathrobe.

But I still look forward to wearing mine :)

Radicchio said...

Enjoying the blog thus far (not sure how much time I'll have for reading once I'm in Lebanon or back & dissertating, myself), but I have to challenge two things:

1) you've started this blog to stay connected to the outside world. i do believe true connection (call me a traditionalist, a luddite, whatever), means over coffee or beer and not over a screen, but you can let me know.

2) you regale your audiences with tales of Italian food (actually made me quite hungry) and don't even comment on the quality of the pizza. Really!

Jared said...

Ok "Radicchio." I agree that "true connection" is with person over coffee, etc., but there are many levels of connection. I am covering multiple bases this way. I did not mention this, but the blog also keeps me in the habit of writing and debating (another level of connection).

And, of course the pizza was fantastic. There were many types I liked. There was a particularly good one called "pizze diavola" that was spicy. And I was sure to have pizza in Napoli (Naples), the birthplace of pizza. A few things struck me as interesting about the pizza. 1) They NEVER cut the pizza into slices. It is served as a whole. 2) The ingredients were usually (but not always) grouped together (olives together, ham together, artichokes--yes artichokes--together, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Rzhane said...

Concerning the pizza in Italy...they have a gadget that they run over the crust prior to putting the ingredients on top that makes little holes in the crust. Hence, the crust does not get soggy. I don't usually like reheated pizza, but the reheated pizza in Italy is as good as the first day it is cooked.

James said...

Now that you're an MPhil, we can let you in on the secret immunities and privileges. Have you learned the handshake yet?

Bob Rabinoff said...

I graduated the College in 1969, and my entire diploma is in Latin (and came by mail some time after actual graduation). It is unpunctuated, and came with a translation on a paper insert which I've long since lost.

The Tetragrammaton is indeed in the center of the seal, and unfortunately is therefore inlaid in the floor of Low Library where people can, and do, walk on it. I believe the Jewish community has asked Columbia to treat it with more respect, but since I haven't been there in many long years, I don't know if anything has been done.

All the best,
Bob Rabinoff, '69C