gardist, whose "career" I've followed with interest and sympathy. A true "doctor of letters" (in the Johns Hopkins Medical School sense), he is a tinkerer, an experimenter, a slightly astigmatic visionary, perhaps even a revolutionizer of cures--and patient Literature, as your letter acknowledges, if not terminal, is not as young as she used to be either.
P.S.: "I have made this longer only because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter": Pascal, Lettres provinciales, XVI. Perhaps Mme de Statël was paraphrasing Pascal? P.P.S.: Do the French not customarily serve the salad after the entrée?
On completion of the required course of studies, the student is given the B.A. or, if he has avoided all impractical courses, the B.S. He is now entitled to put his degree after his name, like an M.D., but will be subjected to considerable ridicule if he does, unless he lives in England.
The degree is proof of the fact that the student is Educated, despite doubts raised by his inability to write clearly, keep his bank account balanced, or be logical in an argument. When people ask him, "Where did you go?" he is able to tell where he went.
The degree is formally conferred at Commencement, the final test of the student's stamina and fortitude. Commencement takes place in June, the weather determining whether it is held indoors or outdoors. If it is held indoors, in the college gym, which is without air conditioning and smells of sweat socks, it will be the hottest day of the year, while if it is held outdoors there will be a steady downpour, beginning almost the instant the College Chaplain opens the ceremony with the invocation. Possibly what sounds like "Let us spray" is heard by some ancient rain god.