I think, therefore War Eagle.

Here is a picture of Dr. Kelley Dean Jolley, Dean of Auburn’s philosophy department. I didn’t take it, Diana did, the philosophy department’s secretary, I wasn’t there.

It represents my greatest academic achievement – making Dr. Jolley fall out of his chair with laughter. I was a philosophy major. You’re welcome. He was reading my final paper ever. I can’t remember what it was on, but it was the last in my “Gangsta Genius” series. Man, it must have been awesome. My second greatest academic achievement was getting an A on a paper in his class, something he said didn’t happen much for first timers. I remember the way it felt, the thing that got me that A, the code that snapped in my head. I was in the shower the morning before it was due, it was 2003, and I was thinking about it — something with William James, I think, this dude — and suddenly it clicked and my head cocked like a dog to a fake whimper. It was amazing. I also remember my first day in that class, first few days I suppose. Again, the feelings. I could actually feel myself learning, true story. My brain started, I don’t know, tingling, and I experienced some sort of waking REM. This happened several times. He probably saw it happening and knew that I was special.

Dr. Jolley is an amazing fellow, so amazing that the Auburn-loving New York Times recently wrote a story on him. It’s pretty awesome, thought I disagree with a few claims, the beef with Haley Center aesthetics for instance:

Logic met at 9:45 a.m. in the Haley Center, a dreary-looking, 10-story building that would have been right at home in Communist East Berlin.

Dreary-looking? What an idiot. The Haley Center is a palace of mental pleasure, it draws our lightning.

Also, I’ve got to take issue with even the slightest notion that the positively existential Auburn Creed, written by the father of Auburn football and straight up probably the brightest, most philosophical light ever to cogito up on that campus, George Petrie, is any sense a pragmatic manifesto from which profs must deprogram their charges. (I mean, yeah, it is a practical world, and good yeah, let’s count only on what we earn and work hard, but then we’re all talking about education and knowledge and mental training and skillfullness.  A sound mind? A spirit that is not afraid? Phenonological! The human touch? Erotic! I believe in Auburn and love it is the most poetic thing ever written!) I’m sure the Jollster’s quote to that sorta-effect was decontextualized.

There are lots of other things, little nit picky things. I’ll let them go.

But I did want to share it, the story, because though football is currently sucking, AU philosophy has been putting up big, big points for years. And I’ll take anything right now. Actually, I’d probably take Jolley, a lineman in high school, over Ziemba, and that’s no knock on Ziemba.

P.S. My third greatest academic accomplishment was being stared at by the quoted Dr. Mike Watkins, and then told through dropped jaw “you’re the bravest person I know.” That was because I couldn’t stop making puns over the dinner reception for the visiting, quoted James Conant, which was, yeah, I think at Terra Cotta Cafe, what a night. Wine us, dine us, St. Thomas Aquinas!

P.P.S. The Jollster was also in a punk band back in the day, Toilet, I think it was.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “I think, therefore War Eagle.

  1. sullivan013

    Great post. Nice change of pace. I attended well before Dr. Jolley arrived, but I have heard good things about him before.

    However, having been to East Berlin during the Cold War, I have to agree with the comment on Haley Center. It WOULD have fit right in with the architecture of the time and place. If you squint, you can almost see the treanchcoated Stasi stepping out onto the concorse.

  2. One of my professors told the tale of a new member on the Auburn faculty praising Haley Center. My professor thought the new professor was crazy.

    The new professor (of architecture) said “Oh no. I used to have to drive my students all over town to show them examples of everything not to do. Now I can do it one building!”

    I almost got lost in Haley earlier this season. I guess some things can be unlearned.

  3. Joanna

    I had Logic with Professor Jolley. I totally remember sitting on my couch studying, thinking that it made absolutely no sense. When, all of a sudden, the light bulb went off, and logic became the coolest class I’d ever taken at Auburn. I made A’s on all the tests after that moment.

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