At sunrise, even the droll ornamental lakes of the university acquire a certain glimmer. The pond weeds become shadows. The shadows wash over the shores of the lake and hide them, which is much for the better, as this lake is populated by geese who have draped the banks with their droppings, each one about the size of a skinned baby carrot. They number in the thousands. Consequently, the mirrored sheen of this fake pond offers only a very incomplete simulation of a beautiful natural scene.
it’s summer in this picture. i was on top of a hill when i took this. i was 18. just before i left for college. the year 2000.
the rows of graves run down the hill to the high brick buildings. the silver dome of the basketball stadium rises like a silly saucer. the trees were the dark green of summer. it was probably hot out.
it’s a little eerie that the view of the university leads down out of a hill of graves. this is the university of connecticut; they have the same thing at cornell university too. a campus graveyard. just a place for the bodies to go when they’re done working, i guess. a convenience, just like the campus coffeeshop. why leave campus when all the amenities are close at hand?
If the campus has a certain relationship with the land, does it also have a relationship to the sky? Does academic space have an upper boundary or a top? Or does it stretch up into the academo-stratosphere (as my friend Jess Falcone puts it) or eventually out into the void where academic “stars” shine?
One of the ways universities organize their peaks is with built objects that rise higher than others, that rise for the sake of rising, because height is symbolically potent: a church, a gilded library cupola, a smokestack, a triplet of water towers, a triplet of flagpoles.