If you have a fancy liberal arts education like me you know that owls symbolize wisdom, despite the fact that they fly in the dark and don’t chew their food. This is of course thanks to the owl of Athena, or Minerva if you speak Latin, the goddess of wisdom and a whole bunch of other things. Georg Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel once famously said, “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” which had to do with philosophy only understanding history once it’s, well, history. I think Hegel would be shocked to know that an owl has been roaming around Marlboro campus during the day lately.
It’s a barred owl (Strix varia), probably the most common owl in these parts and one known to be out and about during the day. But this barred owl happened to choose finals week, when all the students are kinda sleep-deprived anyway and filled to the brim with short-term memories about existentialism and metaphysical cosmology and quantum mechanics and so on. The owl has been hanging out in an apple tree next to Dalrymple and swooping around like one of those crazy pterodactyls from Avatar, scaring the metaphysical cosmology right out of some students and giving bad-hair days to others. I mean, hardly the dignified symbol of wisdom you might expect.
The best explanation I have heard is that the owl is feasting on mice that are feasting on all the rotten apples festering on the ground, and getting a good nip of hard cider in the process. That’s right, the owl seems to be a little pickled. Still, I considered it a good omen that this wise but tipsy animal of classical lore fluttered over students as they trudged up the hill for their last exams. Even my man Hegel would have to agree that it bodes well for the prescriptive power of philosophy. We look forward to seeing these wise students again next semester.