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Unit_4_packet_Dundes_speech - University of California...

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University of California, Berkeley Commencement Convocation: Faculty Address by Professor Alan Dundes, Professor of Anthropology and Folklore 17 May 2002 Congratulations, Class of 2002, you made it! And thanks to all parents, friends, neighbors, in some cases spouses, in others children, and all those who may have helped you get to this important milestone occasion in your lives. You are a special class, a palindromic class, one of the very few to ever graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. A palindrome is a word, line, or verse that reads the same forwards and backwards. I suppose the classic one is supposedly the very first sentence ever uttered on the face of the earth. According to folk tradition, Adam’s first words to Eve were: "Madam I’m Adam." Of course, this presumes that Adam not only spoke English, but also knew how to write or spell English words. The same kind of problem (regarding knowledge of English) occurs with respect to the great Napoleon’s alleged nostalgic reminiscence: "Able was I ere I saw Elba." In any case, the class of 2002 is, according to my calculation, only the third palindrome class of this institution. There was the class of 1881, and more recently the class of 1991, most of who are still around. You are the third palindrome class and I shall return shortly to the significance of this fortunate distinction of being number three. The next such class will not be until the class of 2112. You should feel pride, great pride, graduating from the number one university, in the number one state, of the number one nation in the world! On the other hand, there are probably a few things you won’t miss all that much, once you leave the campus for good. Finding your way in and out of Dwinelle Hall which, according to campus legend was built by two brothers who didn’t get along---in one version, one brother was involved with the other brother’s wife—and they each started building Dwinelle from one end and that’s why the room numbering is so confusing. You probably won’t regret not having to dwell on this past season
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in Bear football, and noticeably wincing or flinching every time you see a car with a licence plate frame or surround, with the slogan of a local automobile sales agency proclaiming to the world that "Nobody beats Berkeley!" Actually, I have a solution for our football problems but unfortunately the chancellor and athletic director have not sought my advice. What we should do is to stop replacing our coach every couple of years but instead temporarily drop out of the Pac Ten and play all of our games, except the Big Game, against just one team, say, for example, Rutgers. In that way, we could be assured of a winning season! But as the proverb goes, "Winning isn’t everything---it’s the only thing." No, what I meant to say is "It’s not who wins or loses that counts, but how you play the game." Well, speaking of the importance of ritual, let us turn to today’s event which is definitely a win!
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