Letters to the Editor

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To the Editor:From September 2003 to May 2005, I was a Visiting Freeman Foundation Fellow in the Art Department, where I taught courses on East Asian art history.

During this time, I got to know International Studies assistant professor Soek-Fang Sim, a fellow Singaporean whom I greatly respected as a colleague and friend.

I was always amazed by Soek-Fang’s energy with work and her enthusiasm about life, so it comes as a shock to find out about her premature death from cancer in The Mac Weekly, the archival and current online editions of which I read with interest from time to time (“Former professor Sim, ‘a true original,’ dies at 35,” Nov. 16, 2007).

She will be missed by those who knew her well at Macalester, and remembered for having touched many lives there in large and small ways.

Thanks so much, Soek-Fang, for the good cheer and hearty laughs you shared with me and our mutual friends, and may you rest in peace.

***

Philip Hu

Associate Curator of Asian Art

Saint Louis Art Museum

To the Editor:

If I read the word “awkward” on the opinions page of The Mac Weekly one more time, I am going to scream (“MacAwkward College: A survivor’s guide,” Feb. 29).

In fact, to avoid using the aforementioned word again in this letter, I’ll substitute it with the approximately synonymous “uncomfortable.” There is no “uncomfortable” epidemic at Macalester, only an infectious insistence to describe all social interactions in this way.

When a social situation is perceived to be “uncomfortable,” it usually has something to do with silence between interlocutors, an inability to know the other person’s thoughts, or conversely, a seeming hyperawareness of the other person’s state of mind.

But as intelligent and thoughtful college students, we should recognize that it is impossible to know another person’s mind. This is a human truth, so you shouldn’t feel bad if it applies to you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

So let’s get back to searching each other’s words and faces for the good old classic emotions, like joy, anger, jealousy, and despair, and not hide by invoking this newfangled and ambiguous non-emotion that they call “awkwardness.”

And remember, silence is golden.

Geoffrey Stueven ’09