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Why Reed Article
I began talking with Reed graduates and undergraduates. They were some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, each one eccentric in his or her own way, and all excited to talk about Reed. They were also wary of making Reed seem merely a place for cigarette-smoking intellectuals debating deep thoughts under dim lights. Everyone warned me that studying at Reed was the hardest they’d ever worked, explaining that intense motivation and a drive for excellence are necessary qualities for success.


The food was good, the graffiti was funny, and I was able to argue with a theater major about Ralph Nader and give my pizza crust to a hungry philosophy major. No one was narrow-minded and everyone was smart—and that is extremely cool.
It was the first college where the security guard played pool with the students. I want to go somewhere where I can change a teacher’s mind, where I can stay up arguing about environmentalist economics and whether the Leviathan has ever existed, whether time is an axis and if it can run backwards, how quintessence can weigh so much, and whether the arbitrary can ever be correct. I want to attend a college where leisure isn’t always 180 proof, where sports are for fun, and where life is an exotic fruit to be studied, probed, but also to be swallowed whole. I want to be with all different kinds of people, but with people who have that insatiable drive to understand, and who love it for the power that it gives them to move and shape themselves, their compatriots, and the world. I want to attend Reed College because of what I have become, not a somnambulist dutifully trodding my way to college but an intellectual explosion, waiting for a spark plug. Reed College is an intellectual hedonist’s paradise.
I’d love to drive a motorized couch. My most infamous association with Reed took place long ago. It happened in a basement coffee shop that no longer exists. I couldn’t have been any older than three at the time. I was sitting with my father—who was still a professor there—when I spontaneously decided to stand up, walk to the middle of the room, gag, and die a terrifying and dramatic death. (Oh, the immunity of youth.) After a moment of silent surprise, a single Reed student shamelessly stood up and did the same . . . then another. . . and another. It wasn’t long before the whole coffee shop had keeled over and died right there on the floor. Any group with that much collective integrity is all right by me.
It’s not necessarily the fact that I want to return to painting with my fingers, but I would like to be able to color outside the lines without being told that I’m wrong.
Then, one day, while wandering the woods in search of fungi, my Walt Whitman-esque field biology teacher paused in reflection on the leaves of grass and, staring me straight in the eyes, whispered, “Have you ever heard of Reed College?”

[Classes for this group of bright, highly chargedfirst-year students, and the rest of Reed College, begin August 27)

End of Article

 
Reed Magazine Footer
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2001