Reviewed by Nam Tran, Edited by Allie Schulz
Before me stood the delinquently mad and madly delinquent members of a guild comprised of a generation of polymaths, the future and new renaissance of a world awaiting its metamorphosis: the students and professors in the infamous MALAS- Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences- program at San Diego State University. The experiment beckoned for a mixture of equal parts curiosity, discipline, and support with emphasis on the “INTER-.” The dynamicisms originated from the conception of a motley crew of innovative pioneers. The idea was that a fusion of seemingly disconnected disciplines could yield a group of people to become capable and forward, backward, multi-directional thinking individuals. The experiment was a success and has continued to be a success for 25 years. That success, revealed by program director Bill Nericcio, is in large part because the program is filled with professors of the “people-person” genre.
Guest speaker Ryan Schneider noted how MALAS was less cohort and more family. This resonated with my conceptions of what school was meant to be. Not simply a place to refine one’s gifted talents, but a breeding ground to nourish one’s love for humanity. He gave his thanks, his advice, his congratulations, and concluded with a passage from T.H. White’s The Once and Future King in which Merlin was speaking to Arthur:
The best thing for being sad is to learn something.
That is the only thing that never fails.
That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust,
never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust,
and never dream of regretting.
Learning is the thing for you.
Look at what a lot of things there are to learn-
So what did I learn from all of this? I learned that improvisation can be an exceptionally entertaining method to get a graduation ceremony going. I learned that a distinguished graduate student quoting Spider-Man is equally acceptable. I learned that you might meet one of your future best friends while bartending during graduate school, that Polaroid cameras are still quite enjoyable, and that knowing and talking with just a few good people can make all of the difference in the world. I realized that I want to become a deviant of my own rankings, experiment, and beget my own MALAS. I already have a little madness in my delinquency and a little delinquency within my madness. I just need to see where it takes me.