the johnnie chair

{a student-run blog about life at st. john's college, santa fe and annapolis}

SJC Annapolis Accepts First Members of the Class of 2019

Posted on December 19, 2014

Winter break brings a quiet to the normal hustle and bustle of the St. John’s College Annapolis campus. Classes have ended, don rags are completed, and the students have returned home, enjoying a well-deserved break. While the classrooms may be quiet, the Annapolis Admissions Office has been busy informing applicants of their acceptance to St. John’s College! Along with a formal admission packet, every accepted student in Annapolis received a phone call from his or her admissions counselor. Welcome to the first members of the Class of 2019!

Winter Break

Posted on December 17, 2014

Winter break is quickly approaching here at the Santa Fe campus. I handed my precept paper in on Monday (Moby-Dick), along with a senior lab paper (Heisenberg), and my final paper of the semester this morning in math (Einstein). I’m ready for the break, but it always feels a little strange to just drop everything we’ve been working at for the past few months. That said, I’m looking forward to just working on one thing for a little while—my senior paper. Trying to finish these last papers of the semester reminded me of one of the best, and simultaneously most difficult things about St. John’s—you can never just cozy up with just one issue. I spent all morning Sunday finishing my paper on Moby-Dick, saved a final draft in the early afternoon, and then immediately proceeded to get back to work on the Heisenberg paper I had started the weekend before. I don’t mean to complain—really, I love that St. John’s forces you (and allows you) to do quantum mechanics and Melville at the same time—but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Senior writing period will be a time in which I’ll have the luxury to think about just one book for four weeks, something I’m unsure I’ve ever done. I’m excited.

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Herman Melville

1.13270 Heisenberg ALAMY B3YK1N e1418842518333 300x300 Winter Break

Werner Heisenberg

Scenes from around the Annapolis Campus

Posted on December 11, 2014

 

Annapolis is a beautifully picturesque city that I have had the pleasure living in for almost four years.  This slideshow features McDowell Hall lit up during the Holiday season, a prizewinning rose from the rose garden next to Randall, a sailboat on the Severn during the 2014 Annual Sail Picnic, a snapshot of a Waltz, and various other scenes from around the campus.  I haven’t quite started to get nostalgic yet, but pictures like this might change that.  I will definitely miss St. John’s Annapolis.

Hooked On Tchaikovsky

Posted on December 5, 2014

On December 18, 1892, an audience at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia attended the premiere of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker – an adaptation of E.T.A Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet’s choreography and storyline were not received well, with critics giving them lukewarm reviews. Tchaikovsky’s music, however, earned hearty applause from both critics and the audience. While the original audience may have enjoyed the rich melodies and unique orchestration, the ballet went practically dormant for the next 30 years. It was performed in Russia during this time, but only after undergoing serious changes to the storyline.

Tchaikovsky 225x300 Hooked On TchaikovskyIt was not until 1934 when The Nutcracker heard its first complete performance outside of Russia in Britain. It then ‘crossed the pond’ in an abridged form, making its New York City debut in 1940. Four years later on Christmas Eve, a complete version was performed in San Francisco, receiving such high praise that The Nutcracker has been included in every season since, undergoing restaging but never losing the music. The ballet’s success in San Francisco rippled throughout the United States, becoming a staple – and huge grosser – of every troupe’s repertoire.

The Nutcracker has become an essential part of the American Christmas season. I cannot think of another piece of music that has overtaken America’s psyche quite like The Nutcracker’s. The only other pieces that come to mind are The National Anthem, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – a uniquely American piece in its own right – and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture written to commemorate Russia’s victory over Napoleon. None of these works seem to measure up. The Nutcracker holds a prominent place in too important a season to have any real competition.

The Nutcracker 300x198 Hooked On TchaikovskyWould we 21st Century Americans have a hard time recognizing Christmas without the music from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker? I think the answer is yes. While many of us don’t necessarily find particular interest in the story or the choreography, everyone seems to at least recognize, and enjoy, the music.      

Thanksgiving Ski Trip

Posted on December 2, 2014

As a high school student, I feared that attending St. John’s and non-academic fun were mutually exclusive. Ah, how naive I was then! Case in point: the Student Activities Center’s annual Thanksgiving Ski Trip to Wolf Creek outside of Pagosa Springs, CO. It was my first time going, and I could hardly have asked for a better way to escape Schrodinger, Einstein, and Flaubert for a few days (though I did bring my precept reading: Moby Dick).

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The view from atop Wolf Creek

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View from the car window: On the drive back, just south of Chama, NM

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Winter Approaches

Posted on November 26, 2014

After living in the middle of the mountains for three years, I never expected myself to return to such a snowy region for college. Although I loved to step on fresh snow leaving traces of fish swimming in the snow (footprints somehow look like swimming fish to me), I was hesitant about living again through long winters of high mountains—slippery roads after the beauty has gone away, shoveling half-frozen snow in the morning, stuck in the dorm fearing my feet and hands turn into ice blocks. Most of all, winter nights without Ondol (a Korean style heating system that heats up the floor—Koreans take off their shoes when they enter the room) was impossible for me to imagine.

Minkowski, or, Mystic Formula

Posted on November 24, 2014

wpid snapchat 4305078872926290276 Minkowski, or, Mystic Formula

One of my favorite parts of senior year so far has been working through relativity in the senior math tutorial. Here’s a little snippet from Minkowski—where distances equal imaginary times. 

Pulling Up the Sun

Posted on November 21, 2014

Wrested from the ice cream cone I had vividly been enjoying in a dream, I roll over and swipe off the alarm on my phone.  It’s 5:30 am.  The wind is blowing coldly through my open window, and I wonder if this had been the source of my dream.  Thoughts of that rich cookies & cream delight combined with the luxurious contrast my quilt is giving to the breeze almost succeed in carrying me off to sleep again, but willfully I swing my legs over the side of my bed.  After ten minutes of fumbling around in the dark for scattered pieces of Under Armour, and fighting the lion’s mane on my head into a pony tail, I finally head out the door.

Crew Picture 300x225 Pulling Up the SunIt is the part of the morning that has not quite extracted itself from night.  I can feel the breath of the Earth, like the calm respiration’s of all the people around me still asleep in their dorms, in the intermittent breeze tousling my hair.  The full moon overhead illuminates my path, and each step I take toward back campus carries me further from the dream land I have only recently left.   Small and unassuming, my destination quickly comes into view: the boathouse.

This is where I begin the majority of my mornings.  Together with twenty others who have made the moonlit excursion in varying states of grogginess, I begin the process of getting in the water.  Sixteen hands grab onto the boat and, listening only to the commands of our coxswain, carefully extricate it from the rack, walk it down to the water, and roll it over heads down to the creek.  We each find our oars and slide them into the riggers, making sure to screw the oar locks tight.  On further commands from Jarvis, we each place first one, then two feet in the boat.  We strap our feet into the (often too large) shoes and push off from the dock.

My favorite things about crew can be condensed into three simple categories: the synchronicity, setting, and physical power.  Following the stroke of the stern-most rower, eight seats slide up to the catch, eight oars drop into the water, eight pairs of legs push against the boat, eight bodies lay back, eight pairs of arms pull the oar through eight identical strokes, and eight pairs of hands deftly feather the oar parallel to the water to be carried back to the catch again.  This intricate compounded motion is repeated ten, twenty, thirty times.  Each stroke is robotic in its motion, yet exact in its execution.  The fifty foot shell, which only minutes before bumbled clumsily in our hands on land, slices through the velvety black water.

We maneuver the boat under three bridges and out onto the Severn.  Heading up river, the rowers are made the face the brightening horizon, feeling as though the Sun is sent higher into the sky with each driving push of our oars.  We are rewarded for our efforts each morning with sunrises like celestial fire.

Three kilometers up the river and all eight of us are still pushing, leaning, pulling, and feathering simultaneously.  My mind is hypnotized into this motion, and despite the cold air searing my lungs, sweat pouring down my face, and burning in each of the strained muscles of my body, I push through.  Tied to seven other determined rowers, I feed off of their momentum and am motivated to keep fighting.  Suddenly, the monotony of our sliding seats and watery oars is broken, “WEIGH ENOUGH!”  We have reached our terminus.

Crew Picture 2 300x225 Pulling Up the SunMore awkwardly than craftily, we turn our boat to face back down the way we just came. Half an hour later, we find ourselves pulling up to the dock again, now wet with the morning dew, and follow another set of commands from Jarvis to get the shell out of the water and into the boathouse.  With each boat now safely nestled back on the rack, twenty hands reach toward each other, and we throw them up in a unanimous cheer, “SJC CREW!”  We tumble out of the boathouse, now fully awake from our vigorous row, and head toward the tantalizing smell of bacon wafting toward us from Randall Hall.

The Unexpected Beauty of Staying Up All Night

Posted on November 18, 2014

It was five in the morning when I finished reading excerpts of Driesch, looked at the clock and realized that I stayed up all night. The day was slowly dawning, turning the sky from black to indigo. While aimlessly looking out the window, I suddenly felt that I should walk up to the hill and see the sky change its colors.

I packed my camera and tripod, and got out of the dorm. It was still dark and silent outside. Everything seemed to be covered with the gleam of sleepiness. I moved my feet swiftly and silently as possible toward the hill. I passed the swing and the dried stream, until I reached a flat area to place my tripod.

Annapolis in the Fall

Posted on November 14, 2014

Fall has sprung at St. John’s College in Annapolis!  Amidst reading Plato, Plotinus, and preceptorial texts, students have been surrounded by crunchy and crisp leaves.  Johnnies find themselves bundled in increasingly thicker jackets, enjoying the colors and the last remaining days of outdoor reading.