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And here we have the main lobby, one of maybe five or six, where I like to stand and welcome the students as they wake from their dreams and look forward to making those dreams come true, with the help of the universityís help. This place, for it is far too large to be described by the word ĎbuildingĎ, exists to make dreams come true. God knows, I see my dreams come true every single day. And if my dreams come true, than why not theirs. As earthly and humble as they are.
Now, here we see some of the many paintings and collages that have been produced by the more creative students we have found a home for over the years. I often spend a few minutes here and contemplate the images pinned up by Mrs Tanning or Mr Pewting. They are the main art lecturers, who have under them around thirty other instructors, as far as Iím aware. Keeping an exact number of actual lecturers is, as you can obviously imagine, a task in itself. Such is the size of this place. I suppose you could see me as something of an authority here, perhaps. Yet, I often find this university defies any totally controlling element. It has a life of its own that I am often at odds with. Iím never completely sure of how many lecturers work here, and even more so, am never completely certain of how many students are taught by those lecturers. Itís not my job to know, really. I tend to deal with how many are leaving.
I have to make sure the newcomers match the leavers.
Yes, some of the artwork is a tad dark in attitude. But student life isnít all fun and games. This can be a very serious place when necessary. Very serious. The students can often be quite scared when they first find themselves here. Who wouldnít.
Anyway, moving on, past the reception area, one of five, we make our way through an absolute throng of eager learners towards one of many, many classrooms.
But, you know, I donít want you to see all that yet. I think youíd much rather see the grounds.
How and where to begin. You can see that the main body of the university dominates our view for quite some distance to come. Believe me, I would have to draw you a map. Iíve seen a few maps clutched in the studentís hands, on my travels. To be expected. It pays to know your way around. But, what the students had in mind making those maps defies me. They really should know better. Some of them are completely wrong. They often forget to include the many wooded areas and the lake, or lakes. There are, I think, around four lakes. At my last count. I donít think Iíve truly had time to investigate every inch of this place. Often Iíll take a sudden stroll and find myself somewhere strange to me. A new gymnasium, a swimming pool, a library. Just yesterday, I believe it was, I discovered an entire dormitory in the western section, hidden amongst the elms and oaks that proliferate here. I was quite shocked. Thirty or forty teenage girls slumbering and dreaming, and Iíd never set eyes on them before. This place can be almost breathtaking. But such is the extent to which society will search for a means to an end. The end being the fulfilment of human desire. Human dreams.
Yes. Thatís why Iím here. Doing my work. All of us here doing what is most needed. Thatís how I like to see it. All of us taking part in one big dream. A dream too large to see the edge of, the point of. Still we feel bound to our roles. And thereís a reason for that. Even if it is only to bring pleasure to one individual.
Yes, I made it my business to learn the names of all those newly discovered students in the western section dorm. Itís my job to know as many of them as I feel fit. And I feel I do my job well. Ask around, they all know me, they have all heard my name. They all know thereís a chance Iíll introduce myself to them, at some point. Iíve not lost any students without them getting to know me.
And here youíll see the tennis courts. Another favourite scene for me. When the sun is shining, or even when it is not, Iím often to be found here, looking for talents in the sport. I put great relevance in physical fitness, as well as mental agility. Not enough students are willing to peak in both pursuits, and I feel a need to make note of anyone who can direct enough time and energy to do so. Iím here to find those special people, those special students who will be part of making the dream come true. Why else would I be here.
Yes, the grass is indeed green here. But youíll never see sight of any gardeners. No. My joke is that the grass isnít greener on the other side. Itís less green. Itís darker on the other side. Humour always unveils the truths we try to hide, donít you think. And this place is always hiding something, something special. Although it is most certainly hidden with the full prospect of being found.
Iím a finder. I hunt. Thatís my job. Thatís why Iím here. And thatís why this place exists, at the end of the day.
I see, the students have begun to find their way from the early morning regime, and while some of their friends begin to soak up the wisdom this place provides, they themselves bide their time, throwing bread to the ducks, taking in the sunÖand dreaming. They know. You can see it in their eyes as they glance into the clouds above. They search the trees, they stare at the universityís many rooftops. They know whatís ahead. What could happen. The dream. The dream could come true. And when the dream comes true, they know they may well be involved. That is at the back of all their minds. Although this doesnít stop them having teenage fun and games. Nothing could do that. But we all know the wisdom of this. We have all been there.
Ah, young Astrid Wilkinson is getting on more than well with a fellow student, I see. Maybe we should take a detour through the woods towards the Theatrical sections. There is bound to be a bit of a play on. I think weíd all like to sit and watch.
You will have noticed that this theatre is more than a match for any commercial structure, in size and fixtures, dealing with the staging of plays and such. A great many of my students are directed towards the musical side of creativity, and Iíve often watched them put on shows from the wings, or the walkways above the stage. But the plays are more my thing. Not so much the classics, but more the things the students come up with themselves. Iím often swollen with pride to see how this university has influenced their imaginations. I can spot the references from a mile off. Although most wouldnít. Some would call it morbid to dwell on this place so much, but they donít understand. For the students this university is their world, and so within it are encapsulated all the joys and horrors that should furnish any decent life. They take the good with the bad, even if the bad can be of a little hard to bear. Some, understandably, try to leave. Itís a sad state of affairs, but it does happen, more than Iíd like. We donít have any kind of security to deal with the problem, so we basically rely upon the structural elements. You know, fences, walls and such. And of course, thereís me. Iím always floating about somewhere ready to help anyone out, if they feel they canít take the pressure. Thereís always an alternative to running away. Where would they go, anyway. They are often very far from home. As it should be. If thereís one thing I try to instil in all the students, and the lecturers, itís that fulfilling dreams is not always a bright and shiny thing. Sometimes we are merely objects within the dreams of others. And we often donít agree with the dreams of others. I will not use the word ínightmareí, but. Oh, the lights are dimming. The curtains willÖyes, open wide. Here we have it. The play begins.
Mmm. Yes. Mrs McNeil has certainly been working well with these new students. I think sheís brought out a lot of their internal worries with this piece. I believe this was penned by Simone. Sheís held my attention before now, I must say. I see great things happening with her. Great things. Sheís really captured how this place feels. The use of costume owes a lot to her art and design classes. And the audacious flight of the protagonist throughout, with the aid of the wire harness, speaks deeply to me. Quite a character. A force that embodies the dream, itself. If not the dreams of all the students. Yes, a tour de force. And utilising a number of the talents that flourish here. From art to the technical. I think you will have been quite astonished by the amount of special effects, as I was. Of course, we try not to be judgemental about such things. Itís all a fair reflection of how the university affects the students. If they see such see things in their minds, it is because we put it there. And I take full responsibility, as is my pleasure, for all that is produced here. Be it happy or dark in nature. I see no distinction, where my students are concerned.
Ah, it is all over. I think I really must take Simone to one side later. She has certainly earned it. A shining star ready to be plucked from the stratosphere, so to speak.
Now, maybe we should have a look backstage. So you can fully appreciate the facilities that our students have at hand.
One must create a sense of reality, within your educational environments, as I see it. Detail is essential. A blurred, and sparse classroom offers none of the payback Iím looking for. It is as simple as that. You give them reality, and then they repay you with a long lasting and believable response. This is true on all levels of life. Make them believe this matters and the dream is all the more enhanced for it. And truly, it does matter. What else could matter. That is why no expense is spared in providing an environment that is conducive to creating a student that is real, understands what is happening to them is real, and acts accordingly. Dreams always have to be structured within a framework of reality. And not all dreams are ours, because reality decides the dream. The lecturers, and of course I, are the manufacturers of the reality. Hence, I must have the studentsí best interests at heart, despite what may happen.
Ah, if youíll look into the shadows behind the backdrop youíll see we have the many winches and wires that were used so much during the play. They love to fly. Iíve seen it in their eyes. They start off afraid, but soon the dizzy heights put all that in perspective. When theyíve seen what can be done. Thereís nothing like being above it all, soaring over astonished and terrified faces. People screaming.
Simone understands this, or will, in time. Her destiny is to float above this university, while her friends look on, screaming her name, screaming for help. Not realising that she has become an integral part of the dream. She will have been chosen for new heights, new and greater visions.
Of course, I wish all my students could find this fate. But it takes time, and energy. My energy can only cope with so much. One at a time, and only then with great care taken to administer a true and proper experience, for want of a better word.
Thereís times I wish I could gather them all up into my arms and whisk them away, take them as high as the clock tower. But desire is often thoughtless, and therefore to be questioned.
You know, I think it would be a fine thing to show you the underground.
There are many ways in here. Doorways situated in all manner of places. This is my favourite entrance, hidden amongst the thick trees. Not many use it, but I canít see why. Unless itís because this wing of the underground section is unused at the moment, by the students that is. Itís quiet down here. Some of the many rooms make fine soundproofed studios for the students to thrash out their anger on the drums and guitar. Iíll often take a peek, see if I spot something I like. I may be slightly older than most of the students, but I still enjoy a good beat. Like I say, this part is empty at the moment. There was a bit of a pong coming up from the sewers. I myself find the smell to be quite enthralling. Earthy and physical. The caretakers made an investigation but I saw no signs of any work going on. These tunnels are a warren of dark dead ends and wrong turns. No wonder then that they found no breach in the structures. Who can tell how or where the sewers end and the university begins.
If you will follow me, I will take us deeper, underneath the very heart of the university. Where life may be learning something useful to itself, drawing closer to its dreams.
Listen. That is young Maeve McNeil playing the cello. Sheís somewhere near, maybe beneath the main library. Sheís not long for this place. You can tell, canít you. Sheíll be swept up in an instance. I do hope sheíll deal well with being headhunted. A young and brilliant talent such as she must know that eyes are watching for her, have plans for her. Dreams to be fulfilled at any time. It will still come of a shock to her, I know. Iíve seen it many times. Still. Change can be a frightening thing. Although I myself am far from afraid when it happens. On the contrary, Iím over the moon. No surprise there. Who wouldnít be, if they were in my position, if they could do as I do. If they held sway over this glorious expanse of learning, as I do.
Itís all I think about. My entire being is directed at it.
And now we must ascend ourselves, up this staircase to the main body of the university, where the students are busily scribbling away at their desks and soaking up the particular reality this place provides, in abundance. We just have time to pop in and spy Mrs Andrewsí students before they break for dinner. Then I have a special treat for you.
See their faces. They know. They all know what is waiting for them once the university needs to say goodbye to them. They may look as if they are paying full attention to their lecturerís instructions, but indeed they are wondering. Wondering when it will be their turn, and wondering what it will feel like. They may not understand it fully themselves, but they are all yearning for it to happen. Release. Release from learning into a full and earth shattering knowing. It shows in their art, in their dissertations. They have seen it happen to others. Seen it happen to the boy or girl next to them. One minute they are laughing, talking, and the next, gone. Gone to some other place, where they cannot follow. Gone, gone. And all thanks to me and the university their dreams sought out in the first place. I sometimes witness the breaking of hearts, and the breaking of minds, during the acting out of my duty and my pleasures. An average man, with an average mind would think twice about taking on such a role once heíd seen so many years of it. Luckily, Iím not an average man. As youíll soon see.
Ah, it is later than I first thought. The lecture is at an end. We must ascend now to the clock tower, to witness the special treat I promised you. For today, young Claire Roberts is to leave this place. The time is at an end and the safety this establishment provides is over for her. Come, we have some way to climb. Many stairs to ascend.
Look out, look out on this world of mine. Those are not simply clouds that melt their way through the sky. And those are not houses in the pale distance. No. What lies beyond the confines of this grand and overwhelming mass of brick and flesh is of no consequence, to me or to them, my students. Look down now, and see them. Has the height of this tower reduced them to indistinguishable smears? Not to me. I can name them all. Because in some way I made them all. Who knows where they truly came from, or are truly going to. All I know, is that right now they are here. And surely I was meant to have a hand in them. See, she is there. Claire is out and about. Her friends are no doubt chatting about all manner of boys they like. Watch, as I take off my confining clothes, my horrendous identity, as they stroll to the canteen. One of many canteens. Watch them, tiny specks, watch. And take note of the Gymnasium roof, just there. Yes. Just below and to the left. You will see a mass of something. A colourful nest that I made. Or, am in the process of making. It is a collection of clothes. A fine and fitting bed. Look, and pay attention to that spot, for that is where I shall be, ten seconds from now. And I will have someone with me. Yes, you shall see what I do to Claire, once I have swooped down and plucked her from her friends. Her dear, dreaming friends.
Oh, do not be alarmed as I climb this small railing. Iím quite safe. Iíve done this a hundred times.
This is going to take your breath away.
Get used to it? No, you never get used to it.