How well I remember, 40 years ago, prowling in the stacks of a college library and reading the books, observing museum pieces in the halls of that library, and attending concerts in the auditorium next door. Glenn Gould showed up to play the Goldberg Variations, Jerome Hines to sing, and Wolfgang Schneiderhan to play Vivaldi on his violin. In those days, a college campus seemed the place to be.
I have never left the campus, though the locale has changed more than once. But nowadays, when I want to hear Glenn Gould play the Goldberg Variations (his first recording of 1955 of course, not his later, latest, and last), I listen at home, and not only because Glenn Gould quit touring and left us. The college campus is less often the place to be.
In the old days, of course, college professors were deemed to be men and women worthy of respect. But if I ever subconsciously assumed by professing anything myself that I might earn any respect, I have long since been disabused of any such notion. For one thing, the social function of the professor has been radically altered with the redefinition of knowledge. For another, I have known too many college professors to respect them automatically myself. And for yet another, as America's materialism has exploded, we now live in a world in which value is calculated solely by money, and a college president can seriously refer to himself as a C.E.O.
Now I hasten...