Dr. Marshall arrived early in the morning.
The drive down Summit Avenue was beautiful, though the humidity was stifling.
There was a breeze with cool jets of air laced through, it spoke of storms and perhaps a break in the weather.
Students were returning to campus. The Freshmen were in the quad doing drills for R.O.T.C.. Dr. Marshall enjoyed watching the young men exercising, wishing that he had been afforded the benefit of such training before his own service in the Great War.
While his summer sabbatical at the University of Chicago had been illuminating. He was glad to be back in Pig’s Eye. He particularly enjoyed the conferences he had attended with eminent philosopher and physicist, Alfred Whitehead he had to confess that it made him feel small.
His work is groundbreaking, Dr. Marshall thought, even though he was forced to confront the very real limits of his imagination as he tried to comprehend Whitehead’s theory of concresence, and such things. Quintin Marshall knew this much, Whitehead was articulating a whole new cosmology, a signal change in the basic understanding of the nature of reality, one that was based on all of the groundbreaking work that was being carried out by famous men like Einstein and others.
The old world, his world would become just a footnote to theirs.
When he got to his desk in Aquinas Hall he found it much as he had left at the end of the spring term, Freshly cleaned and dusted but his work was right where he left it. There were even a couple of papers he had not graded before leaving.
There was a paper from Johnny Holiday, an exceedingly bright but functionally derelict student who Dr. Marshall had been all too happy to see dismissed, even helping to facilitate his suspension, never mind the fact that it necessitated a less than honest report on his comportment.
The boy was a bright and a gifted writer, but arrogant, and he did not belong in the university.
He looked out the window thinking about Whitehead, wondering why he felt hollow inside. He realized then that he had become a historian, a cataloger of other people’s thoughts. The world had moved on from Socrates and Plato, revolutionaries in their time, now become little more than shining tiles in the mosaic of modern thought.
He looked back at his desk and read the title of Johnny Holiday’s final essay:
Concresence and the Square of Opposition, the end of Aristotle in the Age of Uncertainty
Hubris! Dr. Marshall thought, knowing that he was jealous. He hadn’t read the paper, and he didn’t plan to, but now seeing the title again, he realized that Johnny Holiday had already progressed to the place in philosophy that he himself aspired to. He was with Whitehead, a creature of the modern world.