Wednesday, January 20, 2016

University of Southern North Dakota

"Our true lives are lived in imagination and memory".
-- Thorton Wilder


USND Lacrosse: photo by Cliff Hutson
USND Lacrosse: photo by Cliff Hutson

My life, not unlike that of The Pilgrim , is partly truth, partly fiction. One of my fictions is that I sometimes maintain that I have a degree in Economics from the University of Southern North Dakota.

It is true that I hold a BA in that field. But, the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, to give it its full name, is a construct of Peter Schickele. It is his fictitious "home establishment," where he reports having tenure as "Very Full Professor Peter Schickele" of "musicolology" and "musical pathology". He describes it  as "a little-known institution which does not normally welcome out-of-state visitors. Wishing to further this bit of imagination, I created a little photo essay, ten years ago this week, which purportedly is a tour of the campus. The gallery has been getting a lot of hits the past couple of weeks, which prompted this post.

Most people seem to enjoy what I have done, but some take me to task as a fraud. I guess that they can't take a joke. Others seem to take it too seriously and get a bit perturbed when they look up Hoople and find that it is actually not in southern North Dakota. Hopefully, they will eventually see the humor.


"Schickele Auditorium": photo by Cliff Hutson
"Schickele Auditorium": photo by Cliff Hutson
Professor Schickele is most noted as the discoverer of the works of P.D.Q. Bach - "the youngest and the oddest of the twenty-odd children" of Johann Sebastian Bach. One of my most memorable musical experiences was attending a performance of the Oedipus Tex oratorio, written by P. D. Q. Bach, at one of our local colleges. I have also enjoyed many of the recordings of other works by this prolific composer over the years.

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