Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Slide In to (Intellectual)Power: The Rock

Caroline Sedano & Isabel Parkes

Description and Reading:

Enter through revolving doors, the first gateway to the dimly-lit, oddly over-populated entrance to the Rock. The name sounds impenetrable but the doors swing round and round. Steps up filthy grey carpet, over the Brown Emblem. I'm walking on Brown, in Brown.

TSA checkpoint is 10 paces ahead. Metal detectors (book detectors? looking for metal? looking for weapons? i got some.) flank my sides and i read the hand-written welcome: ENTER. I am entered and welcomed to take my education in my hands. We are entering into a place of empowerment through knowledge, hereby given the invitation to rise to a position of power.

On the left is my task, this time more serious. Typed by a machine, printed on a crisp 8 by 11 sheet, this means business:

"Please swipe your ID, fill out form if you have forgotten your ID, and visitors please sign in on sheet provided"

Just double check: No. I have not forgotten my identification. I am Caroline Sedano (Isabel Parkes). Female (female). 20 (20). Curly brown hair, blue eyes (wavy brown, grey).

Swipe your card is next, on the left again. The most important step. Do we have access to this community? We want to imagine ourselves as fully-integrated into the Brown lifestyle (academia!) , but did we forget our ID?

Does it even matter?

Even when one forgets their ID, the option remains to simply sign-in on a piece of paper, one that is undoubtedly tossed in the garbage soon after. What is at stake in both the primacy of the actual ID but also here seeing it rendered unimportant? How is our recognition of the Rock as Brown's intellectual hub thus compromised, when anyone can enter it?

We propose a question of power. In that our Brown ID grants us power, physical access, into these hubs of student life and academia, how can we see it compromised?

Connecting to other spaces:

Here at the entrance into the Rock library, we are granted access into a place that maps collective intellect. These are not just MCM students or Biology students, these are all the variety that Brown offers [well, maybe the SciLi has laid claim to some of them...], converging in a shared physical, disparate mental space.

To get there, we make our way onto Prospect St., a bustling throughway for RISD and Brown students and faculty, even Providence locals trying to go somewhere. Cars, bikes, pedestrians meet, all adjacent to the quiet green -- another site of social and intellectual life at Brown. The steps up the Rock, where a micro-community of stressed-out, smoking students finds its place, is also present.

Inside, we can trace books, journals, films: knowledge. Passing the swipe point and entering deeper into the stacks, say on the 3rd floor, however, it becomes clear that a certain level of secrecy is at stake. One must know what one is searching for in order to be looking for it at all.

Do those swiping in have this knowledge, have this search for something specific in mind? Or are they entering simply to engage in the mental focus the Rock enables? In this way, the complex space of the Rock (here discussed in terms of the swipe-point entry) creates an empowering area for students to meet, though often in silence.

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