Conversations about Levels

My father was a firm believer in technology and psychology. When we were close to finishing school we were subjected to a battery of tests at the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) for a whole day. Doing tests and answering questions asked by young psychologists.

The CSIR was at the bottom end of the WITS complex, on Yale Road. It had a modern facade at the time, with vertical blue aluminium balustrades that were too long. I stills see it in my mind’s eye, but do not remember the details of my visit. I remember my brother going there a few years before and becoming an accountant. I remember going in with a very negative attitude.

I knew where my family was pushing me. I had to get a degree in law, medicine, accounting or engineering. I suppose the only other option in those days was teaching, the arts and architecture. I think that creativity was not even on the horizon in the view of the old people who had struggled from Greece. Possibly on the horizon for my father, but only for professional reasons. As in creating a new business or designing a building of shopping centre. It was a luxury in those days, and our white South African society, although luxurious in it lifestyle, did not allow for visionary creativity. I suppose that’s what stifled the country.

So I completed the battery of tests and was labelled somewhat anti-social and not creative. They recommended I become an engineer. What I really wanted to do was become a game ranger, and even offered to do the B Sc degree at Stellenbosch in Forestry. But that did not fly well with my father. Even though it was a B Sc, how could I think of getting a degree from Stellenbosch? Come to think about it, how could I think of even getting a degree away from home? WITS was near home and was my father’s alma mater.

He started out doing pharmacy but could not handle dissecting the platanas so he changed to commerce. I started out doing engineering and after two years changed to medicine. Antisocial me. The first year was a breeze. I had a physics credit and only did chemistry, biology and sociology. Coming from the engineering faculty I was jeered by my previous classmates when I entered the sociology school for lectures and tutorials.

I had revolted against my engineering friends to leave technical engineering, and was revolting against myself to do medicine. I discovered that towards the end of my undergraduate training I could not keep up with the volume of information to be digested and committed to memory. I went to one of the professors to discuss it and he told me about the Bullshit Level Detector.

I had to adjust mine. If I thought something was below the Bullshit Level Detector, then I had no need to spend more time on the matter nor remember it. It has paid off in life.

It is amazing how much bullshit there is out there.

My Graduation Proof Print 1988

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