1963-06-23 - Chatting up the prof
Summary: Clea sneaks into a class and has a conversation with the completely normal and mundane Prof. King about the nature of power. It is THICK with allusion.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
clea louis 

During the day, Columbia University is terribly busy. The sweeping walkways between the tall Romanesque buildings are busy with students travelling between classes, lounging around upon the grassy quad, or studying in small groups. It's a melange of people, some tight-laced students mixed along with a myriad of hippies and counter-culture individuals learning what they can in one of the best universities in New York. Though most of the students are in the class rooms and lecture halls as well.

It's in one of those lecture halls that a semi-recent transfer to the school is holding audience. Standing casually behind a podium and leaning upon it with his arms supporting his weight with hands clasped before him. Professor Louis King presents a wry and accessible image as he casually talks to the students in his class.

"So you see, the greatest ally that the British had in defeating the Roman invasion was primarily logistics. The resistance of the indigenous… and I use that term loosely, had little effect on the effort."

"So you're saying that it wasn't really a war, sir?"

"Well to one side, perhaps. Much like your American war for independence. The British were so tasked with the…" But then the tall man smiles and holds up a hand, "Ah, but that is a topic for another class.

That having been said, the students start to file out, while a few get in line at the front to try and ask a question or two of the prof himself."


That woman, Clea, came in with a few others, people in modish jackets and in some cases the hints of affected faux-English accents. Some of them had been chatting, and one fellow with a bowl cut has a hand optimistically on Clea's hip as she writes down what the professor is saying.

"Is that shorthand there, love," says the young man from Ithaca.

"Mm? … Yes," Clea says, distantly. "I suppose it is."

When the class ends, Clea pointedly ignores the young man from Ithaca, who leaves with some frustration, and joins the line to try to ask the professor a question. Clea holds her notebook oddly, as if it's a much weightier tome.

When she gets near the front, she holds up her pencil. The notebook is clasped to her chest. "Excuse me — Professor King —" She weaves a little, because a fraternity man's in front of her, but she's holding up her hand at least.


As the tall man had been dealing with the students he'd been remarkably patient, or at the least… presenting the image of patience. He answered a few questions here and there, but then as the line started to reach the end he began to pawn people off by telling them his office hours and starting to pack up his belongings, pushing them into a brown leather bag at a leisurely pace.

The frat brother is dismissed with a nod and a few calm words, "Just do as you can, Eugene. I am sure my schedule will not conflict with the 'football'."

Once that fellow is on his way it's Clea's turn. Green eyes lift to meet her gaze and she can almost feel the exasperation of the man. It's an exasperation, however, that doesn't reach his manner entirely as he murmurs, "Yes? How may I help you?" He lifts his bag up and rests it on its side, clearly ready to go.


"I wanted to ask you about what you meant," Clea says then, "about -"

She says the word carefully. "Logistics, and resistance."

She straightens up and closes her notebook. "If I understand it right - ah, you seemed to mean that it's a little hopeless if you had some sort of invasion that wasn't at the long end of the… String." That pause was odd, but Clea is searching, even tilting her head. She bites her lower lip, just a bit and for a moment, possibly out of nervousness. That /is/ quite a glare, after all, even if it hasn't wilted her as of yet.


"Not so much hopeless, no." Louis takes up his bag and steps away from the table, walking around to the side as he moves towards the door, clearly expecting her to follow with him as he moves. "Just in the previous conflicts I mentioned it was more that that was a stronger factor." His footsteps are even as he moves towards the door, his accent precise and almost clinical as he responds to her. "Resistance is important if only for the identity of the people resisting. It is just that for a superior invading force it is often more important for the endeavour to remain viable. If a resisting force is able to shift that bottom line, then that is a success. It's just that often times… in the greater scheme of things, that resistance is mathematically unimportant compared to external factors."


Lo: she does! Clea swerves forwards, walking steadily ahead once she's on a straightaway. Her hips swing a bit, and she consulst her notes, protectively.

"You make it sound so awfully difficult. Isn't it simple enough when things aren't evenly matched…? I'm sorry, I've just been, I've been reading the news lately. It's terribly complicated…"

Her tone brightens up. "What if there isn't much of an identity, I mean, in one of those nations? How does it get put together?"


"Well," The older man glances at her curiously as he moves, his free hand slipping into the pocket of his jacket as he shoulders open the door. He holds it open for her as she comes after and then they set foot out into the hallway, students passing around them as they move. "At times or in such situations exceptional individuals often come to the fore to create that identity through force of will. Or the people consolidate around tragedy, success, shared experiences."

A few strides along the way, they take a turn and he looks distantly thoughtful, green eyes unfocusing as he murmurs. "Or they create a cultural touchstone from the past, history, culture. Though these situations are prone to…" His lip curls and for a bare moment she might see a glimmer of amusement, "Re-interpretation by the new generation."


Clea rests the eraser of the pencil on her lower lip for a moment. She looks from the older man to her notes, but she doesn't scratch things down yet. Too much walking to do. She takes in a breath and lets it out. Somehow she seems obscurely disappointed.

But it's brief! "I suppose that you get a lot of questions like this, Professor King," she asks then, closing the notebook properly. There is a brief glimpse of the 'shorthand' inside. "I hope I'm not taking up too much of your time."


"It's no trouble," Louis says off-handedly, clearly the response given something he's had practice saying. He opens the door to the room that serves as offices for various faculty members. It's just for a moment that he's in there, setting his bag down and to the side before he leaves it in there and steps back towards the door. "Don't ever be afraid to ask questions," His lip twitches lightly as he adds, "Particularly of authority."

Once that's taken care of he steps back out into the hallway, his hands sliding into his jacket pockets as he continues along down the hall. "But what is that you have there?" He quirks an eyebrow curiously as he looks upon the tone she carries. "It seems a touch… unwieldy?"


The tome is an extremely thick spiral bound notebook, although the way she's holding it is definitely Tomelike.

"Oh," Clea says, absently, sliding the pencil into the spiral binding. "No, I've just been trying to put all my notes in one place! That's all." The shorthand was of course not really shorthand, and half of an obscure glyph is peeking out from a page that got halfway loose.

She smiles as she keeps walking, apparently having not read dismissal in anything thus far. "Well, questions, let me see… Do you think there can be such a thing as a good authority, Professor? I used to think so."


Again there's that faint smile, and his answer doesn't come immediately. Instead it's given after he reaches the double doors that lead outside. He steps through them, holding it open for her to come along with and it's out onto the quad that they emerge. The sun's bright, the day is lovely and warm, and there's just a bit of a breeze that's created by the river being just across the way. "It is dependent on what you consider good. Do you mean just? Do you mean effective? One could be either and not be considered good."

Setting foot on one of the paths that leads away from the lecture hall, he continues to speak with her easily enough while they walk, his gaze focused forwards. "Often times an individual one would consider 'good' would not be the most suitable authority, unable to make the difficult decisions that the harsh stage of reality demands."


Clea takes in a deep breath. She pauses on the doorstep for a moment, not in hesitation but to look out at the world. She steps down with ease, and shifts her grip on her weighty notebook to tuck under her arm, biting lightly on the eraser of the pencil as she goes.

"One might be good for his — nation, or at least not bad, and yet be bad for those outside. For other nations, I mean to say. But doesn't that put a weight on those who see that truth…? Especially if it's more than necessity that drives," Clea says, a bit floridly.

"You're very wise, Professor," she adds. Flattery! If heartfelt.


"We are very tribal, miss…" He asks of her name as he pauses as they reach a bench, but he does not take a seat. "We care for those that are connected to us through a variety of lenses. There is blood, location, interests, experience. The hierarchy of such depends on each individual, of course. Some place more weight on blood or the like, while others hold no such fealty."

Louis continues back along the path and then continues, "Species often falls far… far under on our list of loyalties. Some would argue that all sentient beings or living creatures have an equality and so decisions based on 'the good' must include all creatures. I would not make this argument. For I am not much of a philosopher."

Then she offers her compliment and his lip curls wryly. "We're all just embracing our roles as human beings, Clea. Some of us just have more experience at it than others."


"Clea," she says. It's two syllables, barely.

And then as she walks she gets a momentarily surprised look upon her face. It is picture perfect and it is probably a shame nobody is there to photograph it. But then she seems to realize more, and the surprise shades into something else entirely.

When she speaks, that something is revealed to be a sort of sophomoric slyness. "Yes," she says. "I suppose that's true. But even so… What sort of an argument WOULD you make?"


For a moment he pauses in his stride and then as if having just realized he had them he pulls a packet of cigarettes out of his pocket. He pats them against the palm of his hand, then extends one towards her in offering should she so wish. Whether or not she accepts his next act is to take one for himself. There's a quick flick of silver as he causes a lighter to flare that somehow was also in his hand. After lighting he places it back into his pocket with the packet then takes a drag.

"As individuals we all operate out of self-interest, Clea." The tall man lifts a hand and pushes it through that somewhat wild hair of his before he looks back at her, green eyes narrowing as he considers her. "I am no different. If it met my goals I would take on the role of a leader in some capacity. I would make decisions that would benefit my continued reign, and it is in my self-interest that the society I have control over is successful and fruitful. If it causes conflict between my own and those I hold authority for I would have to act in their… and my own interest. But perhaps my goals would change if my existence was threatened. Perhaps not. It is difficult to know until such a trying moment comes before you."


Clea takes one and leans forwards when the lighter comes out. She lets it dangle from her lips after it's lit, though, looking back towards him in a deliberately distant way. Maybe she's just listening closely.

Then she reaches up, having taken a small drag, which she lets slide out of her mouth. "I am a little jealous," she says, more formally. "I wish I could think about it like that. But…"

She trails off, then crosses her arms, carefully so as not to drop her notebook. "I don't know. I'm losing my train of thought, Professor. But thank you for taking the time to talk to me… Did it help your own goals, at all?"


Another drag on the cigarette, then he eyes her askance, the cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth partially. "I don't believe I have any goals, at least in this regard." He looks at her aside and then adds with that same small touch of a smile, it even reaches his eyes this time. "Though, I admit, this has been.. amusing."

He ashes his cigarette and looks to the side, towards the river that's over her shoulder beyond some of the old buildings of the university. He looks back and adds, "You seem interested in this, however, Clea. Moreso than an individual with purely an academic outlook on the matter." He lifts his chin slightly, "You seem more someone burdened with some great decision looming before them. If that's so…" He leans forwards slightly, "You should most likely seek counsel from someone other than just a college professor who pretends at some spectacular depth and insight into humanity." His smile blossoms easily, as if sharing with her a light joke.


Clea sucks on the tip of the cigarette meditatively as she considers the advice. Her eyes turn, following the line of where Louis looks, and then back to him. She takes it out of her mouth, then, and smiles in a halfhearted sort of way.

"I try not to share it with people. Most of them don't seem like they need the weight," she says, exhaling to the side as she does. "But I suppose I had to reveal myself a little when I started being curious…"

Then she seems to realize something. Her eyes widen slightly. "Oh! I just remembered. I was just there to write down notes for Frederick. I should go copy them out -" Because, of course, she's not enrolled in anything here. They just let anyone on campus these days, don't they?


"Indeed," Louis starts to walk again, but this time it's alone as he tells her sidelong. "It always strikes me as curious how all of this knowledge is available so easily for anyone willing to sit and listen. Surprises me so few people avail themselves of it." That having been said he slides his hands into his pockets and continues on, "'Til next time, Clea." He waves a hand over his shoulder as he departs.


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