No college or university has been depicted in the movies as much as Harvard. Here’s a staggering link. I was just looking to see how many more actors came from Harvard than Oxford. Lots more. Harvard is a 747 with Oxford and Cambridge under its wings like two antique Lockheed tri-stars. Yale is a sorry also-ran. Princeton is just a postcard. The reality of it all.
Most of the movie depictions make it seem like Harvard is fun, or romantic, gorgeously gorgeous, or anything but the reality. It is fun, and romantic, and amazingly other, but it’s also a very very dangerous place. It can make you and it can break you. You don’t win unless you let it do both.
For people who’ve been raised with a belief in accomplishment, it’s a brush with heaven. The first place you’ve ever been where everybody automatically belongs. Everybody gets the benefit of the doubt. They’re all at Harvard. Not everybody is brilliant. Forget that. Some are there because their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers were. But they have their own magisterial authority. Others are there because whatever you believe, they can assail it, puncture it, twist it, pervert it. If you let them. Are you as smart as you think you are? Or are you one more of innumerable fakes, of which Harvard is also full.
People’s appraisal of you is not linked to grades. That’s the democratic side of the place. On the other hand, you’re supposed to be not ordinary. Which is hard to do in a place with so many who excel and whose sons and daughters proclaim ambitions they actually achieve. You’re continually breathless. It’s a motor started in your head and gut that never goes out.
It can kill you. There are suicides nobody wants to count. There are also stories of persistence.
Kind of like life, ultimately distilled, when you think about it.
Why did I write about it today? A movie called Prozac Nation. Nobody writes about the darkness. It’s not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s a crucible. You survive or you die.
Harvard is full of dangerous people. I am one of them. Go Crimson.