louis mackey, one of my favorite professors at ut austin, in his contribution to the wonderful film by richard linklater, waking life. a yale scholar, later professor at rice in houston and finally professor emeritus in philosophy at ut, he understood the necessity of applied theory, engaging lectures and dissected thought, and did his best to thwart reverence in his time spent at the podium. “i’m no prophet,” he would chide us, “speak up,” but most of my classmates sat quietly, as did i, transcribing him as closely as possible or simply listening, tape recorders winding in front of them. mackey wouldn’t abide mere regurgitation or propagate the elitism or ivory tower self-aggrandizement that makes so many people jaded and feel excluded. instead, his lectures were some of the most thoughtful and descriptive prose i have ever heard in public speaking and we were all pretty broken-hearted when he fell ill and had to leave mid-semester. when his face came on-screen in this film, clip below, my eyes instantly teared up. he was a subtle, intelligent, humble, witty, visionary of a man, who left his mark on his students and showed us all how expansive the process can be. in his ut memorium, one of his students describes his lectures as “architectural masterpieces,” and that’s no exaggeration. we are indeed lucky if, in the course of our education, we encounter a few people who shape us. he was one.
February 17, 2010
“which is the most universal human characteristic: fear or laziness?”–richard linklater, “waking life”