December 05, 2003

Re-naming and Necessity


A blog-entry formerly known as: The Beaver's Second Lesson

[Somewhere in Metropolis, a roving reporter bumps into a big furry guy with buck teeth, who poses for photos and offers the chance of an exclusive interview.]

Beaver: Hey, reporter, I'm famous, wanna take some photos? Or perhaps an exclusive interview?

Clark Kent: Well, I would like to ask you what your reaction was to news of the replacement of the name "Beaver College" with "Arcadia University?"

Beaver: I have an incredibly busy schedule, putting in cute but industrious appearances at fund raisers and sports events all over the continent. So the fact that Beaver College has been renamed just means I get a little more time on my paws.

Clark Kent: Nonsense!

Beaver [aghast]: What do you mean nonsense? I am so busy you wouldn't believe it. I'll have you know that I am the mascot at Babson College and MIT in Mass., Bemidji State University in Minnesota, Bluffton College in Ohio,  Buena Vista University in Iowa, California Institute of Technology (a role in which I gained a lot of publicity, as part of the greatest college prank ever) and the nearby Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, Champlain College in Vermont, The City College of New YorkMinot State University in North Dakota, Oregon State University, and the University of Maine at Farmington, as well as being the symbol of New York District, and of course, Canada (I even did the olympics there back in `76). And let's not forget my trans-Atlantic engagements - I'm also the mascot at the London School of Economics. I can tell you, I earn a lot of air miles. Plus some of those double beaver matchups, like the CalTech-MIT games that people like to talk about, are truly exhausting - all done with mirrors. The fact that Beaver College has changed its name...

Clark Kent:  Bah! You idiot!

Beaver: Say, you look familiar. Didn't we meet at the CUNY game last week? I was the big brown furry guy jumping up and down right in front of the home crowd.

Clark Kent: Well, apart from my reporting job, I do have a little side position in the Graduate Center at CUNY.

Beaver: I know you. You're no mild mannered reporter. Let's see what's behind that shirt...

[Button popping rip, revealing a giant K on Kent's chest.]

Beaver: Oh so you are Kent after all. [Looks crestfallen.] Hey wait...

[Rips further, revealing the full insignia: SK]

Beaver: [Gasps] You couldn't be [dramatic chords] Super Kripke!

Super Kripke: Au contraire - I must be!

Beaver: Hey man, I'm a real fan of your completeness stuff. And, well, frankly, the fact that you're you changes everything. If you say that it's not the same me who's at all the football games every week, then who am I to argue. You are after all the master of identity. It must have all been one big dream of mine. [Pauses, in deep thought.] But, no, Super Kripke, this time you're wrong.... you forgot about the air miles: I can't possibly have imagined them!

Super Kripke: My dear furry friend, the fact that I'm me is surely no surprise, and far be it from me to argue with your well documented poly-iconicity. As you say, the Beaver is the mascot of all those schools, you are the Beaver, ergo you are at all the games: I see no contradiction there. No, I was simply questioning your contention that Beaver College has been renamed, which is nonsense.

Beaver: Huh? You said so yourself.

Super Kripke: I most certainly did not. There is no such college.

Beaver: Oh, I see. You mean Beaver College no longer exists.

Super Kripke: Beaver College has never existed!

Beaver: [Gasps.] You mean, the name change is retroactive?

Super Kripke: Of course not. The governors of the University are not so powerful as to be able to change history.  However, it is no longer appropriate to refer to Arcadia University as "Beaver College". So while Beaver College has never existed, Arcadia University, as the sign at its entrance correctly and proudly proclaims, has been around for 150 years and counting. You see, if its made of wood and has big black letters on it, there's a good chance its a rigid designator.

[Super Kripke would gladly have talked till next day,
 But he felt that the lesson must end,
 And he wept with delight in attempting to say
 He considered the Beaver his friend.

While the Beaver confessed, with affectionate looks
More eloquent even than tears]

Beaver: Once again, I have learned in ten minutes far more than all books would have taught me in seventy years. We have sorted out the puzzle of your identity, and the puzzle of Arcadia's. But before we part I have a puzzle for you. You may be you; indeed, I accept that you must be. But I am not me.

Super Kripke: Impossible - let us see who you really are!

[SK starts to rip open beaver suit, revealing... another beaver suit.]

Inner Beaver: You see, I'm just pretending to be me.

Super Kripke: Nonsense again! There must be someone in there doing the pretending.

Inner Beaver: You're very clever, young man, very clever. But it's Beavers all the way down.

Posted by David Beaver at December 5, 2003 04:15 AM