Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Frail vessels for the precious oil of humanity

"The modern university is a vastly different place from those turbulent houses of medieval scholars. Being concerned with an earthly, not a heavenly, kingdom, the universities have had to shape themselves to a changing society.

They have assumed obligations to industry. They have become encrusted with buildings and offices. In different cities and in different ages they have fulfilled now one function, now another. But through the whole eight centuries it has remained the vocation of universities to uphold and to transmit certain imperishable traditions.

Often they have been frail vessels into which to pour such precious oil of humanity. At one time and another they have betrayed their trust. But the traditions have been preserved, and they have been handed on to Australia. Today our universities, criticize them as you will, are the trustees of Australian intellectual life; despite their weakness, despite their unworthiness for this high office."

Eric Ashby, Universities in Australia, 1944 pp.74-5

1 comment:

M-H said...

Hmmm. With the clamour of O-week outside my window I'm not so sure about the 'precious oil of humanity'. :) Of course, Ashby didn't know about rock bands.