MIT culture overflow

Posted October 6, 2005

Tonight I was supposed to attend a lecture by the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. He's a writer in residence this year at Harvard, and came down to MIT to give a talk this evening.

Holy cow, it was a mob scene! I arrived 20 minutes early, and it was already standing room only... people packed to the rafters in one of the largest lecture halls on campus (seating 500 students). The police showed up and forced everyone without a seat to leave to avoid violating fire codes, and that unfortunately included me. In leaving, I passed further hundreds of people in the hallways outside waiting in vain to get in.

Now, granted, Murakami is very highly regarded, but it was still surprising to see such a turnout. We've had MIT professors giving their "hey I just won a Nobel prize, come hear me speak" lectures in that same room, and it wasn't as crazy. Basically, while I'm disappointed I didn't get to hear the talk, I'm happy that there was such an outpouring of enthusiasm in the MIT and Cambridge community for such a "cultured" event. We're not just computer geeks, we're also literature geeks, too.