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In the Parlance of Our TimeTo the Infinite, and Beyond!

By Zachary Ozer
CHAIRMAN

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe the exhaustion is finally starting to get to me. Or maybe Dean Benedict has started putting something in the water as part of a secret plan to make his job easier. Whatever it is, I’ve been seeing the Infinite Corridor in a whole new light.

I used to see the Infinite much as a racecar driver sees a quarter-mile racetrack: it’s long, it’s flat, and I got a need for speed (or perhaps just a delicious burrito). It was like a rural highway, with slow-moving traffic on the right, faster moving traffic on the left, and a turning lane in the center. I even developed a “rules of the road” which I called Infinetiquette. It went something like this:

1. Greet everyone you know, but if you stop, pull onto the shoulder.

2. You can move into the opposing direction of traffic only if this does not interfere with their traffic flow. To that end, turning yields to all other traffic.

3. Always pass; never be passed.

I even came up with cool names for the various levels, corresponding to the different layers of the atmosphere. Going from bottom to top, there’s the SubInfinite, renowned for being free flowing, but also for its strange inhabitants and piles of cruft scattered hither, thither, and yon. Of course, there’s the Infinite we all know and love. Then, there’s the TropoInfinite, more commonly known as the SuperInfinite, which often becomes crowded when lectures are let out or when some prof wins the Nobel Prize, which has started happening often enough that it’s worth mentioning. The StratoInfinite is barely worth mentioning, given how it is devoid of any life.

Then, there’s the MesoInfinite. This is the zoo of the Infinite. There’s lots of pretty colors, and animals in their cages, I mean, students in their design studios, but don’t get to close to the glass, and definitely don’t tap. Finally, there’s the IonoInfinite, mostly inhabited by rats, pigeons, and hackers, but the latter have been hunted to near extinction by the rifle of injustice, loaded with the ammunition of legal action and fines.

But I just don’t see the Infinite like that anymore. I’ve seen the light. Sure, this is partially due to the redesigned Course 3 labs, (you helped me avoid that horrible Chemistry requirement AND brighten up my day; is there anything you can’t do?), but it’s something else. I spent this summer at home working at a lab. I would walk down hallways, each identical to the others, lined with hideous ceramic bricks and lima bean green paint on the low, fluorescent ceilings. In these moments, I actually missed the Infinite. She is majestic, with unparalleled warmth and openness. Her columned entrance, her high ceilings, and her unequaled grandeur make her classic, a thing of beauty in every generation.

Someone recently posted signs proclaiming her the “Eternal Corridor,” but there are signals that from her very inception, she was meant to last forever (although, perhaps not her mechanized entry doors). Take, for example, MIThenge, which will be observable this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Like the Mayans’ temple at Chichen Itza, or Stonehenge, the Infinite was designed as a calendar for the ages. These other structures, however, were built as tributes to various gods. The Infinite was built as a tribute to truth. Note the pedestals in Lobby 7 sometime. Besides the occasional hack, they are never occupied. Is this because nothing is so permanent, so eternal, that it deserves memorial in stone? Clearly the designers did not believe so, as the names of the great thinkers of the ages are etched into the walls of Killian. So then why are there no statues in the Infinite? Someone once suggested to me that it is because the pedestals are there waiting for the next great mind, the next Newton, the next da Vinci.

I still walk into the Infinite every morning, hell-bent on setting the record time for crossing it. But now, I walk out hoping never to leave it. Maybe I never will. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get one of those statues someday… .