Let’s just forget for the moment that T.S. Eliot considered the last two lines of John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” to be a blight upon an otherwise lovely poem. Keats wrote: “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” Okay, let’s also forget that the quote is craftily lifted from Sir Joshua Reynolds, an 18th century English painter. Finally, and this is my favorite, let’s ignore the fact that our man Keats distilled this fetching bit of wisdom, with the sleek simplicity of a mathematical proof, from contemplating a dusty old vase. At face value, I mean really, can you imagine a finer description of beauty than John’s?
If you can, and you happen to live in the captivating psychological thriller known as the teenage years, you might want to consider submitting your idea to the Marlboro College Beautiful Minds Challenge. I know, I know, it sounds a little un-Marlboro to have some sort of cleverness competition for high schoolers, but just consider it an exercise in thinking like a Marlboro student. The object is to come up with something you think is beautiful, whether that’s an “Ode on a Double Latte,” or a computer program that randomly generates the mating calls of all known mammals, or a kinetic sculpture of the Big Bang constructed entirely of matchsticks. You know, the kind of crazy, way-out-of-the-box, cross-multi-inter-disciplinary, Virginia-Woolf-meets-Miles-Davis thinking that so permeates the Marlboro mind.
And if you do not live in that captivating psychological thriller known as the teenage years, perhaps you know someone who does, someone who occasionally casts you in a cameo role as the schizophrenic landlord or village half-wit. And perhaps an “Ode on a Double Latte,” or an ode to some other similarly enlightening vessel, might be right up their alley. Finalists will be invited, expenses paid, to a student symposium right here on th’ Hill, and first prize is $1000 or enough for a Grecian urn full of lattes. I kid you not—beautiful, eh? And that is all ye need to know.