Saturday, May 02, 2020

A useful parable, or story, or something, about returning to campus this fall

Dame Eleanor asks about what we're thinking will happen in the fall--online or not?

Well, we are supposed to be back in person. I'm not giving it any more thought than that because summer is when I have to make up for all the writing I didn't do this spring.

If we go back, I will get ready for it, I hope. If we don't, I'll get ready for it, I hope.

One of my favorite ways to think about a situation like this is a joke or parable or story that I heard on a TV drama about Henry VIII decades ago. It goes something like this:
The king--oh, heck, let's call him Henry VIII-- was extremely fond of his favorite horse--let's call him Bucephalus, because that was not his name. However,  he had become really disenchanted with one of his advisors. Let's call him Cromwell, because that is not his name.

Really disenchanted, as in Anne of Cleves disenchanted, Tower disenchanted, thinking about the rack disenchanted. 
 Henry was about to send Cromwell to the Tower. Somehow he got wind of this and sent word that he had a great thing to tell Henry. He met up with Henry walking in the gardens.

"Your majesty, if you give me a year, I can teach Bucephalus to talk," said Cromwell to Henry's back.

Henry turned around. "You can?"

"Yes. If you give me a year, I will train Bucephalus to talk. But it will take the entire year."

"If you do not teach him to talk, you realize that you will be hanged, drawn, and quartered?"


"Very well then. A year from today."

Cromwell bowed his way back from the royal presence. A friend who had been watching stood there with his mouth open.

"Are you insane?" he hissed. "You can't teach a horse to talk. No one can."

"The way I look at it is this," said Cromwell. "A year is a long time. In the space of a year, many things may happen." 
"I may die."
"Or the king may die."
"Or the horse may die."
"Or," he added, "the horse may talk."

So while I can think about the contingencies and the likelihood (or not) of teaching in person in the fall, so far, I'm hoping that the horse will talk. 


Anonymous said...

THANK YOU. I vote the horse talks too.

gwinne said...


Any decisions on the admin question?

undine said...

Anonymous--thank you!

gwinne--I've been thinking about your question since last night. No decision yet, but I'm thinking about it more, especially since it is keeping me from getting big projects done.