maybe it's just my pagan leanings, but I prefer to let the seasons define themselves. They've been at it for a while anyway, so they probably know what they're doing.For the first time in years, the first week of September came and went for me with absolutely no fanfare. My only anxiety was over whether or not the picture on my calendar for this month will be as nice as last month's detail of a Sacco and Vanzetti mural. (It isn't.) No being trapped in the mazes of phone registration. I was happy to report no tear in the fabric of the universe as August turned to September.
Riding through the two campus grounds near my home, I'm finally able to watch the processions with the eyes of an outsider. Froshes swagger and shout around town with a grating bravado that makes them seem more like American tourists than knowledge-seekers, and there's a palpable feeling of bubbles closing around parts of Toronto as Ryerson and U of T are transformed once more into pseudo-city states.
Already, news has come of two attempted sexual assaults on the U of T campus. The academic year (neither strictly academic nor strictly a year) has begun.
It's the little things, really-- the little, stupid things-- that made me lose faith in "my" school. (Let's call it Uork Yuniversity, for anonymity's sake.) One professor talked at great length about the importance of linking philosophy to daily life and real politics, but would act as if you were speaking another language if your words weren't bookended by page numbers.
I even sat quite eagerly through two separate lectures (in two separate classes) on the evils of abstract time, ended quite perfunctorily in deference to The Clock, and which were to be translated into assignments to be handed in on time at any cost. And of course, there's the environmental studies department -- profs always seemed to hand things out on new, bleached paper, and the lab computers were inexplicably kept on around the clock.
I managed to stumble upon some engaging learning when I was cutting class with friends to staff an information table for one of our many ill-fated political collectives, or to plan for the next campaign -- such as outlining the Ontario Tories' general contempt for all things living, or attempting to get a room in the student centre to serve as an autonomous space for sharing resources, be they wacky ideas, clothing, art supplies or photocopier codes.
This all required taking the issues we studied out of the classroom and actually talking with people about them, without academia shoving its way in between. We took it upon ourselves to learn things because we had to. The campus shit-disturbers were my teachers -- my professors were simply the parole officers I had to check in with every now and then so I could keep coming back to school to work and play with the radical folk.
So September is here, to be sure, and I have much respect for those among the students who have enough energy to return and fight for mental autonomy for another year. But the thoughts that occupy my mind have little to do with class schedules and the threat of exams and more to do with the schedules of teach-ins at the upcoming International Monetary Fund protests in DC. And rather than mark the season with empty frosh rituals with drunken strangers, I'm looking forward to an equinox ritual with loved ones.