C-MB: I certainly am unable to generalize for all women, but I have seen a few similarities between myself and other Ivy women I have met in-person or virtually. Firstly, I see women and men as having parity within the Ivy community – that is to say, I believe we share many of the same values. Those might translate differently at an individual level, particularly as the Ivy mindset, though rooted in traditions and the pursuit of excellence, also allows for a streak of creativity and individuality that makes our mosaic so unique and such a vibrant sartorial and cultural collection of individuals. At the family level, I believe that Ivy women place their families at the same level as their professional pursuits. A well-rounded life means you are sharing that life with people you care about – grandparents, parents, a spouse, children, grandchildren – and you are passing along life lessons and learning plenty of them along the way. Relationships are also built from an understanding of and a respect for ethics, dedication, and care. Love for another person cannot be true if it is rooted in narcissism or self-interest. An Ivy woman seeks to build relationships authentically and earnestly, regardless if they are romantic or friendly in nature. That’s why I would actually merge the categories of friendship, relationships, and family into one – friends become part of an extended family; family remains the foundation of tradition, ethics, and love; relationships only build out of the trust and care forged by those community bonds. Love is abundant for all three categories, and every relationship maintained helps build emotional bonds and aspirational goals.
“Academics need to realize that there is so much of life to enjoy and experience outside of our offices, conferences, and classrooms. We need to do things that challenge what we know. We need to keep our eyes and hearts open. Most importantly, we can never let our academic pursuits extinguish the flame of passion that caused us all to pursue whatever field of inquiry we have pursued. Academics are in their positions in order to open others to new ideas and allow those ideas to be challenged, experimented with, and ultimately to keep our society’s minds at work to ever improve what we’ve been doing for centuries and to inspire students to think differently.”
Hallelujah! So well said. Thank you.
Loved this interview, and Dr. Brisson’s answers. I eagerly await part 2!
(And John: The Gold Coast?! We live in that area and I can tell you it is truly a fantasy novel.)
She’s great, right? – JB
Bravo! My wife of many years graduated Smith. Does that count as Ivy?
It does here! – JB
JB’s it’s-mostly-about-dignity argument is, I think, spot on. Well, mostly. There’s something about Ivy (well, there’s a turn of phrase) that immediately dignifies anyone who attempts the look. Here, then, is a reasonably reasonable assumption: if a person is wearing an old, frayed oxford, shetland crewneck, tweed jacket, corduroys, and penny loafers, he/she is studious, well read, and probably creative. Say what you will about Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, John Updike, Fran Liebowitz, — you’ll never guess they’re dumb, boring, or lacking in ideas. The Ivy vibe, difficult to articulate, forever looks-sounds-and-smells like the Williams College faculty lounge circa 1966. It just–well, it just does. With a few important exceptions, I mean.
Yes to this:
“I think that aesthetic intentionality is beautiful. That being said, I like things that intrigue me, that challenge me to think beyond my own preferences. I admire when the built environment has purpose. In essence, I see myself as bringing my own aesthetic into the world and appreciate the mark on the world left by architects, artists, and designers.”
“Beauty is harsh” — Donna Tartt. Gosh, is it ever.
Thanks. Agree. The other thing I have come to appreciate about the style is that it is productive rebellion. Not making a statement for the sake of a statement, but making a statement to reflect something real. – JB
Andover (not Williams< but since they sent like half of each class there, similar vibes:
I always wondered whether there was a relationship between the English word, essay, and the French verb, essayer. That reframes a whole lot of things for me. What an interesting conversation between two quite interesting people. Thanks for sharing it.
In my Ivy duffel on the desert island, I’d have to bring my Panama hat — sun protection would definitely be important in that kind of situation, and I’d have no reason to feel self-conscious as the “Panama hat guy” as I still regrettably do in my city. I guess the key there is to wear the hell out of it this summer.
Thank you! We have bigger plans for Part 2, I think. Well, I am going to pitch them to C-MB and see. – JB
The wool cap in the photo reminds me of Jackie Kennedy.
When I lived in Cambridge, one of my roommates was an Oxford-educated math professor at Harvard. He was always impeccably dressed and well-mannered.
He told me that he and his colleagues were always complaining about how Harvard students were smug and pretentious in their sweatpants and backwards-facing ball caps.
That was 20 years ago, and from what I observe in Harvard Square, the situation has only grown worse.
Shouldn’t we distinguish between Ivy style and the
Ivy League? I find the values which underlie Ivy
style to be increasingly absent from those propagated by Ivy League universities, just as Ivy style clothing is conspicuously absent from the
wardrobes of Ivy League students.
I fixed it for you 🙂 – My take on this, and I have an article coming out soon on it so I would love to hear what you think in advance, is that Ivy Style and the Ivy League are about to meet again. Remember, I was right about the tie. 🙂 I hear you on the values part, and thanks for saying it. You have made me reconsider a large part if the article. Damn. I was this close. – JB
“andet” : a typo for “absent”.
She has a cute Peggy Olsen thing going on. Oscar Peterson’s Green Dolphin Street from Very Tall album is one of my favorites.
Kerouac didn’t speak English until six years old? Interesting. Too bad he never learned to write it well, while driving in his shiny car in the night. IMHO one of the most overrated authors ever. After this comes the deluge of refutation…
I am by no means a Kerouac apologist but I will say this. Not everyone who experiments with the language are bad writers. Some are innovators. – JB
I’m nowhere near articulate as you, so I hesitate to share my ideas about the Ivy style/Ivy League interface, overlap, and clash, but I’ll certainly be interested in reading your ideas on the subject.
Shouldn’t that be “nowhere near as articulate as”?
Interesting interview this.
The meeting of Ivy Style and the (current) Ivy League could be fascinating particularly when viewed from an ‘aspiration vs actuality’ perspective.
When the faux traditionalists meet the modern iteration of what they somewhat ardently attempt to emulate the subjects of dignity and authenticity come to mind. Does forbearance have a place there?
I would also note that C-M Brisson is gastronomically inclined as well as having expressed an interest in becoming a sommelier. Not a complete surprise in someone who is Franco-American and has a wide range of interests. The lady is a student of life and a citizen of the world.
I am looking forward to the next installment of what will hopefully be an ongoing conversation.
Who knows? There may be a book in the offing?
Dignity, Respect & Authenticity.