A Place of Mind

Last week, I had a chance to explore the University of British Columbia (UBC). A city within a city. Now that I’m older, the campus doesn’t feel as big as it did when I toured it as a teenager (don’t get me wrong – it still is a huge campus). I guess things just feel smaller as you get bigger. The campus was dead — probably because it’s summertime — but that didn’t really matter since I was there to photograph its buildings, not its people.

UBC’s branding is “A Place of Mind” and practically every lamppost on campus seems to have a sign with this slogan. I should have photographed one but you’ll just have to take my word for it. Looks like they’re selling UBC’s physical location as much as its academic education to prospective students, as the promotional video above attests to. Inspiring space produces inspiring thought. And it is hard to find a campus as beautifully situated as this one:

Walter C. Koerner Library with marshmallow pillows in front – a public space favourite also found in Vancouver’s Robson Square

Luis Camnitzer, The Museum is a School. 2010/2011. Outside the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery on campus.

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

Look at that mountain and ocean view!

The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. European-style architecture meets the glassy West Coast.

I made it my mission to find the Buchanan Courtyard that I wrote about here when I talked about the non-linear path of an Arts degree. The picture from that post was not my own and I wanted to remedy that since the trek to UBC isn’t nearly so long now. The pond seems to have gotten rather murky and some of the quotations were difficult to read. I wish I spoke more languages so I could have read ALL of them, but nevertheless, here is a ‘place of mind’/piece of mind chosen from the different departments in UBC’s Faculty of Arts:

Buchanan Courtyard Pavilion

“It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” – Sarah Bernhardt


“To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.” – Isaac Newton

26 quotations in various languages wrap around the poem in a semi-circular fashion

“Music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music while the music lasts.” – T. S. Eliot, “The Dry Salvages”


“The understanding, like the eye, whilst it makes us see and perceive all other things, takes no notice of itself; and it requires art and pains to see it at a distance, and makes it its own object.” – John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Approaching the Buchanan Courtyard from a tree path

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” – David Lloyd George


“I saw what could be done with words, for I had a vision of a New World as I talked.” – Nellie McClung

A murky pond. Maybe even this is symbolic of the uncertainty wrapped up in an arts degree

“Write the things which thou hast seen, not the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” – Revelations


“Virtue can only flourish among equals.” – Mary Wollstonecraft

An empty courtyard. No students to soak up these words when I was there. Only me.

“A little madness that springs is wholesome even for the king.” – Emily Dickinson


“We bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather: that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.” – John Milton, Areopagitica


“Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it, as the purpose of life. Let your self-consciousness, your scrutiny, your self-interrogation, exhaust themselves on that; and if otherwise fortunately circumstanced you will inhale happiness with the air you breathe, without dwelling on it or thinking about it, without either forestalling it in imagination, or putting it to flight by fatal questioning.” – John Stuart Mill, Autobiography

Reflections on reflective words

3 thoughts on “A Place of Mind

  1. Great quotes are so inspiring and there are some good ones here. I’m kind of curious as to what the selection criteria was – different eras, genres, authors, gender? Have you come across any research on that or perhaps you have an idea from your own Humanities studies? Looks like a great spot for reflecting, in any event.


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