A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.
I’m sitting in the rotunda of the Victoria State Library in Melbourne. Around me stand eight walls, each four stories high reaching for a dome of beige wood, white molding and frosted glass. The sun glares outside, burning the Schoolies and the workers on the lunch breaks sitting on the lawn with ipods on, sandwiches half-eaten and cigarettes burning. But in here the glass diffuses the light and the resulting glow is just the right level. As bright as you can be without needing sunglasses but without any specific direct source. The eggshell walls bounce the photons around which makes the woodwork and the old books that much more distinct.
The desks are situated in long rows with high backs to isolate the reader, or in tables with 6 chairs situated around. The chairs are entirely wooden as well, capable of holding a person of significant mass but still comfortable for my modest 75 kilos. In the center is the octagonal operations center. It lies empty now with a No Entry sign affixed to the swinging doors. Green lamps abound, shining their totally superfluous incandescent light down onto the tables. I’ve been here for 2 days and just now noticed that they were on.
The guy at the table next to mine chuckles to himself. He has had headphones in for the past couple hours and is letting out noise in spite of himself. He sighs loudly, unintentionally, and it hits the same volume. Every sound is picked up by the high ceiling and unmuffled walls, amplified and echoed for all to hear. The typing of my keyboard isn’t enough to register, but the laptop from Chuckles is.
A woman in a red, black and tan Japanese watercolor-style shirt walks across the room to grab a frayed tome off the shelf. With each step her heels shoot gunshots across the space. Her pace is a moderate one, and the cadence serves as the soundtrack to an otherwise musicless room. Here, in the middle of a city based on music and art, culture and energy, silence reigns.