By Chris Lydgate ’90
Reed magazine cover June 2013

Reed magazine cover, June 2013
Photo by Eric Rose

“Transformation” has become a buzzword lately. Management gurus offer “transformational leadership.” Policy wonks expound the virtues of “transformational government.” Diet books tout “transformational weight loss.” A quick search on Amazon reveals more than two thousand book titles including the word.

The overmarketing of transformation probably sticks in the craw of most of our readers (I know it does in mine). Which is a shame, I would argue, because transformation—or metamorphosis, as we define it in this issue—lies at the heart of what Reed is all about.

From the planks of Theseus to the hexameters of Ovid to the nightmares of Gregor Samsa, the twin themes of change and constancy have beckoned artists, writers, scientists, and scholars across the centuries. They also apply to our individual journeys through Reed and beyond.

In this issue, we explore the concept from several viewpoints. 

In MASTER OF DECEPTION, we meet bestselling author Roger Hobbs ’11, whose protagonist is a professional shapeshifter—a discipline, Roger suggests, that animates many successful writers.

The advent of 3D printing holds immense potential to revolutionize manufacturing. GARBAGE AND GUTENBERG profiles engineer Matt Rogge ’97, who built a 3D printer capable of transforming plastic milk jugs into kayaks, barrels, and other essential items.

When does a succession of signs become a language? That is one of the many fascinating questions raised by the linguistics thesis of Katelyn Best ’13, which forms the basis of BIRTH OF A LANGUAGE.

Why should Ovid get all the glory, anyway? In APULEIUS UNBRIDLED, professor Sonia Sabnis [classics 2006–] takes a fresh look at the other Metamorphoses of the ancient world, the earthy, bawdy satire known as the Golden Ass.

As always, we welcome your comments, no matter what stage of the Reed life cycle you happen to occupy at the moment. Join the conversation below. Finally, inspired by the biological dimension of metamorphosis—that is, an organism’s transformation from larva to adult—we turn the focus on ourselves, and ask how Reed changed us—a question John Sheehy ’82 explores in GOING THROUGH THE FIRE, drawing heavily on his magisterial history of Reed, Comrades of the Quest.