Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Mystery of the Presidential Window Blind by REBEL GIRL

--Some theories offered toward the meaning of completion of a recent work order by Facilities Management:

The Feng Shui Hypothesis

Some history, and some cultural history. Previous to the recent installation of the Presidential Window Blind, the Presidential Office Window offered an unobstructed floor-to-ceiling view into the modest but well appointed (No mold pizzas in there! No scampering of little mouse feet on the ceiling panels! Lots of jelly beans!) Presidential Office. If passersby were so inclined--and who wasn’t?--they might catch a glimpse of the college president at work or in conference with visiting dignitaries or chatting casually with the state’s accreditation team or counting jelly beans or ordering inspirational management gimcracks or making crank calls.

Indeed, in years past, it became something of a sport (low-impact, aerobic, non-competitive, to be sure--and no mascot) to glimpse, for instance, a certain Academic Senator standing on Thursday afternoons, post-Academic Senate meetings, as he faithfully reported the week’s disappointments and travails to the jovial and understanding campus leader, all the while eying the jelly bean jar with the same look on his eyes as the famous Victrolla dog.

But that’s another story, shared governance is only a memory, and danger is everywhere. Anybody who knows anything about Feng Shui (Did the president contract a feng shui advisor, or only pick up decorating tips from a visit to the perfectly shui Ruttan and Tucker offices?) might recognize that the window posed a clear hazard to the Presidential Power--site, the Sedona of administration.

As readers probably are aware, Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of physical space to invite the achievement of spiritual harmony with the environment. The presidential window, in its previously--and alarmingly--unharmonized condition, allowed all the energy created in that sacred and powerful space to leak out. Instead of fostering force and vigor, the gaping portal became a negative element, sort of like when you go to a party in your tux, hair nicely groomed, tie on straight but some wiseass points out that your fly is open.

In addition, the window’s openness, its physical and metaphysical vulnerability, allowed the potential for passersby and onlookers to transmit potentially negative energies to the office’s occupant.

With installation of the Presidential Window Blind, the college president has both remedied his precarious position, trapping the accumulated psychic energy he creates, while shielding himself and also deflecting the transmission of random or negative cosmic elements emanating from passerby and onlookers.

The Chinese have a phrase for this which, translated loosely, amounts to “Fuck off.”

The Asian Shadow Puppet Theater Speculation

As an undergraduate with sporadic interest in the dramatic arts, Rebel Girl once studied Asian Theater and was particularly interested in the tradition of shadow puppetry. So, the day when she first saw the Presidential Window Blind while schlepping out to the faculty lot with her usual collection of student papers, baskets, and bags, she was struck by its dramatic possibilities. Could the President, she wondered, also be a fan of shadow puppets? Was this an attempt on his part to invigorate the cultural life on campus?

Life imitates art, or is it the other way around? (Rebel Girl missed a lot of classes in college.)

Behold the Presidential Window Blind, illuminated with its bright office light. Even though I might have missed that lecture, it seems to Reb that this modest shade offers the perfect screen for puppets, intricately designed from and made mobile with rods, sticks, and wire. We move into a world of allegory and myth. (Think recent board meetings.) The shadow puppets are never directly seen by the audience, only the effect they create is visible. This effect is created when the puppeteer moves the puppets and the light behind the viewing screen creates the shadows for the audience on the other side.

Traditionally used to depict epics, the puppets could easily be adapted to other narrative styles or meeting minutes. Take Santander, for instance. Trustee Fuentes’ Spanish Adventure. Please. Rebel Girl imagines the college president might be inspired to offer a revue of sorts, a variety show, the greatest hits of the SOCCCD.

The Allegory of the Cave

Or perhaps the Presidential Window Blind is the college president’s attempt to approximate Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” This is, admittedly, a variation on the Shadow Puppet Theory.

Those of you who sat in the front row of your undergraduate philosophy class will remember that in the allegory, Plato likens people to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see.

Such prisoners might mistake appearance for reality. They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows.

The college president is reportedly a fan of both Plato and the Matrix movie series. Haven’t you seen the pin-up of Keanu Reeves that the Presidential Window Blind now obscures?

However, the college president’s purpose in creating this homage is not easily ascertained. Does he want to lead people out of the cave into the light? Or does he wish to remind us of our own state of imprisonment? Or...?

The Clock Tower Conjecture

The arrival of the Presidential Window Blind coincides with the obvious decay of the Clock Tower. Perhaps our secretly sentimental leader can no longer bear to cast his eyes daily on the rotting clock tower, an IVC icon perhaps more beloved than he, and thus devised the window blind as a way to obscure the splintering tower and its garland of yellow police caution tape. Out of sight, out of mind.

The IKEA Premise



Green Whale said...

Rebel Girl, you are wickedly funny. It's a side of you that I don't really pay attention to. I should! I never thought I would see Plato and the Matrix mentioned in the same sentence. But it stands to reason.

Anonymous said...

Here here! and There there!
How come we hear from the Reb so rarely?

Rebel Girl said...

Thanks, green Whale, for your comments. I must admit I am funny at times, but my co-conspirator, in-house editor and comrade these past 20+ years is even funnier - so much of teh over-the-top stuff credit goes to him. I start out funny - he ends of hysterical.

But Plato and the Matrix, baby, is all mine. And the concept, of course.

Why doesn't reb write more?

Don't get her started - a rant about that very subject soon.


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