Letter to My Grandpa From College

Recently while sorting through my late Uncle’s belongings, I located this handwritten letter to my Grandfather which I wrote him during the Winter quarter while attending Stanford University. I think my observation from the class I was taking in the German Department is particularly chilling, especially in light of recent events

2-6-98

Dear Grandpa,

Sorry I haven’t written in so long. This time of year is usually pretty busy, although I only have 13 units this quarter. My classes are: Myth and Modernity (German Department), Cityscapes (Writing and Critical Thinking Department), and Differential Multi-Variable Calculus (Math Dept.) The first class, Myth & Modernity, has a pretty good reading list – Kant, Goethe, Büchner, Marx, etc. We’re studying the Age of Reason and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. While I do agree with the principle of thinking for yourself rather than being ruled by dogma, I don’t think the Germans implemented it that well. They thought that intellectuals could reform the government and other institutions by writing scholarly works; they thought revolution could only bring anarchy. I guess they were closer to the Terror in France than to the Declaration of Independence in America. So the problem with being a passive intellectual is that it is really easy for a government to censor or punish you for your views; standing up for what you believe in is the only way to get rid of unjust laws or regimes. Otherwise, your rights are gradually taken away until something horrible happens, like the Holocaust. So anyway, this class is pretty interesting.

over -

However, my writing class is really dull. It has an interesting title - Cityscapes, but so far all we’re read or written about is Victorian London. I thought we might read multi-cultural city short stories, but that hasn’t happened yet.

I really love math class. I actually have a good professor and section leader this quarter, in contrast to the pathetic math class last quarter. It has been pretty easy so far, but I’ve heard that it is much more difficult after the midterm (which I took last evening). I think this class is easier for me because it is computer oriented – we’ve been learning about vectors and matrices, and differential calculus is well-suited for the incremental nature of computer math.

I’ve been using my spare time to play my theremin, which is an electronic instrument. It’s basically a black box with circuitry and two antennae. It is sensitive to the distance between my hands and the volume and pitch antennae. It sounds a lot like a violin, but since you don’t have to touch it or have any demarcation of pitch, it is more difficult to play. I hope I can show it to you some time, it’s lots of fun.

Love, Suzanne

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Suzanne Aldrich
Web Technologist

Web technologist specializing in security, performance, and usability.

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