Friday’s daydreams

January 11, 2008 at 5:01 am (Uncategorized) ()

All, I’m sure, feel sad at the passing of the great Sir Edmund Hillary and if there is an afterlife, we can imagine him being welcomed by Tenzing Norgay and George Mallory. His first words to Mallory were perhaps: “George did you get to the top?”

I would love to know what Mallory said in reply. I suspect it would have gone along these lines: “Yes, Ed, but unlike you I didn’t get back.”

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald I noticed an obituary to a remarkable scholar, John Strugnell. Perhaps a little late as he died on the 30th of November last year.

He “read, wrote and spoke nine languages.” I’ll leave it to the reader to follow up on his achievements and failures, but his death accentuated, in my mind, the quality of a passing generation of intellectuals, steeped in languages both ancient and modern with degrees in Greats. In old terminology, they were described as ‘educated men’. There were some women too.

 It’s years since the great universities required matriculation in Greek and Latin for entry and we now see a proliferation of PhDs who have many fine qualities but would we describe them as educated? I wonder!

Within the designation of educated men, I recall two of my past bosses in the PNG Health Department: Dr Jan Saave and Dr Shelley Durham.

The above ideas are going through my mind while I worry about what is going on in the building site next door. Questions like: How much longer will this noise go on? Is the builder following Council regulations?

This only goes to prove that we can’t entirely intellectualize life and I’m sure that while John Strugnell in the past was reflecting on the uses of the Greek particle, he also faced the problem of whether he should have another drink or not.

And so ends the lesson on this 11th day of January 2008.

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