The passing of a great human being

I am writing this to tell you about the passing of a great human being.

I learned on Thursday that Patrick J Hill has passed.

I want to share with you that someone you probably did not know has recently been lost to this world. I am telling you this because he deserves to be honoured by voices from every hill top and every hollow. The summer sun today may seem brighter than it should be because a light the rivaled the sun itself, that burned bright and brilliant, has gone out.

In the dedication of my Master’s thesis, I wrote these words:

“If, as suggested by Mary Parker Follett, the true test of a teacher-student relationship is whether the student can build on the work of the teacher, I hope that this work is in some way a monument of success for Dr. Patrick J. Hill of The Evergreen State College. Without hesitation, I dedicate the success of this paper as celebration of Patrick as a teacher in the best meaning of Follett’s notion and more.”

But how can such reserved words convey the depth of my love for this man that is no more?

What do I say about a man I barely knew but meant the world to me? I knew him for too brief a time. I met Patrick at The Evergreen State College, in his program, “The Power and Limitations of Dialogue.” Every moment of my life since has been deeply influenced by Patrick J Hill.

The light of him that was reflected in my eyes has grown dim, but I must keep it alive somehow. Every life I touch is touched by him.

I’ve been trying to write my thoughts down, but am having a hard time capturing even a fraction of the full impact Patrick had on my life. I was blessed to drink from the sacred water of Patrick’s well of knowledge and care for the world and to share the experience of his mentorship, and I have been forever changed by that miraculous reciprocity.

Taking a cue from another former student of Patrick’s, I offer this excerpt from a poem Patrick read to his students as an anthem, a cry, a gentle demand to be the best of yourself in this world:

“Il est l’heure de s’enivrer!
Pour n’être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps,
enivrez-vous;
enivrez-vous sans cesse!
De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise.”

“It is the hour to be drunken!
If you would not be martyred slaves of Time,
be drunken;
be drunken continually!
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.”

– Charles Baudelaire

I ask you to please help all who knew him personally, in whatever way you can, send Patrick every blessing possible for his journey.

Red squares across the state

Via OlyBlog – This ain’t CNN, “Evergroove trivia, pt. 1“:

“Then we could observe people walking around on Red Square through the grates. The original Red Square, a wide area surrounded by berms and narrow exits, had an incredibly slippery surface in the 1970s. We always felt it was that way on purpose for crowd control. The bricks were replaced in the 1980s. During the time the campus was designed, student unrest around the country was widespread. ”

In fact, it is my understanding that the ubiquity of a “red square” at every state campus was specifically due to utility for crowd control. Any demonstrations in these squares could be controlled with water from a firehose which would make the brick slippery and allow the force from a nozzle to topple people to the ground. I believe I heard this for the first time on a campus visit to WWU many years ago.

At the University of Washington, the Suzzallo Quadrangle, which was, I believe an open field, was replaced with red brick in 1969, at the time the undeground garage was built. There turns out to be a wikipedia article about UW’s Red Square, but it claims the brick was used because there was fear that rain would leak through grass and soil into the garage beneath. I suspect that may have been the politic reason.

As an aside, and here’s my most precious bit of trivia about Red Square at the UW, the chimney stacks are the height of the pyramids on the Giza plateau in Egypt.

Those chimneys are close enough together that it’s possible to climb up between them just by pressing against two stacks. People have climbed up there and had to be rescued several times over the years. I remember hearing that it was actually pretty frequently, in fact.

But at least people walking on the Red Square at the UW don’t have to pass between the Grassy Knoll and the Clock Tower! I get a kick out of the procession diagram each graduation that looks like a map from a conspiracy rant … book. The diagram that is given to graduates that shows the procession passing between those two landmarks is a pretty heavy unintentional frisson, an allegory for the coming transition to off-campus life?

The trifecta of bad taste would go into effect if Evergreen’s Red Square ever got metaphorically confused with Tiananmen Square, or, I suppose, the eponymous Red Square in Moscow.