Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I think of Mark Sandberg in soundbites.
What did Theodora's father do for a living?
Twit twit twit
Jug jug jug jug jug jug
So rudely forc'd
O do not ask "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
When I met him, Mark Sandberg was a mild-mannered prodigy freshman at BYU who'd come in with off-the-charts test scores. We both haunted the fifth floor of the library and shared a common major at the time, Humanities, and had several classes together. He'd come from St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the three children then at BYU of well known educator, scholar and author Karl Sandberg of St. Paul's Macalester College. Together we were part of a motley assemblage of ragtag braniacs and liberals known as the "Fifth Floor Study Group," a core part of which came from the Twin Cities. I frequently had lunch with Mark, his brother Dave, and other Minnesotans at the Cougareat, and listened to them argue which was side of the river was superior, Minneapolis or Saint Paul, and whether or not Hardees truly had the best hamburgers. Together we studied existentialism, and art history, and pondered the great mysteries of the universe.
Like what Theodora's father did for a living.
Those were great times, with a million embedded memories. Kant and Hegel and Sartre and Camus and Art Bassett and James Faulconer and International Cinema and Cougareat.
I think I got pulled over once coming back from seeing Young Frankenstein at a drive-in movie theater in Springville, with Mark and his sister Stephanie in the car. We'd been laughing hard, and the car was weaving and bobbing in the pouring rain. What had I been drinking? the officer asked when he pulled me over to the side of the road and asked me to walk a straight line.
"Milk," I replied.
Mark Bennion Sandberg.
Mark went off to Norway on a mission and wrote back interesting tales of the midnight sun, and townspeople coming out after a long dark winter to chant, "Sola, sola."
Mark is now professor of Scandianavian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and acknowledged expert in Scandinavian film studies. He is the author of Living Pictures, Missing Persons: Mannequins, Museums and Modernity, published by Princeton Press in 2003.