THE FINAL DAYS
Everyone waits in silence, in waiting rooms nearby, in halls, in homes and in communities surrounding the funeral scene where the patient lays dying. The Yerkes Observatory, where Albert Einstein thought, wrote and worked; the Yerkes Observatory, where Carl Sagan sat at a desk, peered through the telescope and thought of the billions and billions of galaxies out there making mankind much smaller in size but much greater in thought; the Yerkes Observatory where laser penetration of the atmosphere created the ability of all earthbound telescopes to stare up through a murky dusty atmosphere now no longer murky and dusty. The Yerkes Observatory, where high altitude scopes were built and then flown high above the earth to view outward into the universe…ever outward.
The death of the Yerkes comes in quiet gasps, too silent and silenced to be heard by the multitudes already in mourning for the loss of this larger than life, but smaller than notice institution, as it takes no final bow, waits for no grand crescendo of adulation or appreciation, but lays there…only dying. This loss, and it is a monumental loss, isn’t felt at its very depths, from the bottom of the pit of the barren, primarily by the people who have been employed there. They will move on to other jobs, other forms of service in exchange for money situations. This monumental loss is about to be felt by the huge numbers of people who won’t know what it is that has passed until it is gone. The building will be there for some time to come. The building will quietly wait for its own end, as the land around it becomes populated with suburban dwellers, whose children will play, toss balls against its outer surfaces, and eventually lose interest in a place where nothing happens anymore, and the memories of past contributions fade into final obscurity.
The date set for this denied death is October 1st of 2018, and that date deserves to be remembered. The University of Chicago, vaunted as one of the best centers of higher education in the nations, abandons its mission with this consignment of the observatory to the scrap heap. Modern finance took the place of historical, cultural and social needs. The University of Chicago is not ashamed of the new way it chose to divest itself of all responsibility and expense in this second iteration of an attempt to execute the Yerkes. That the University of Chicago is demonstrating that it has no soul left in these modern times is both sad and revealing. It is sad that a university with such a grand reputation would not, and obviously does not, care, and it is revealing as students across the land get to make their own plans about going to that institution for higher education purposes.
Is there any wonder that Midwestern schools of higher education can never seem to compete with the likes of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton located in the eastern part of the country? Those institutions have come to find that the culture, history, and the soul of the university is even more important than educational presentation and results. The Yerkes Observatory is being left to die a lonely quiet death, and part of the soul of every person who lives around the lake is going with it. It would do well for every citizen of the entire area, if not the state, to now regard that Illinois-based institution of the University of Chicago as one of the identifiable enemies of advancing civilization in these dynamically changing times.