As the Institute’s leader from 1990 to 2004, he sparked a period of dynamism.
Place of work is part of mind,
Memories imprint the wall,
Shabby artifacts recall
Crystal concepts, well-defined.
Down the halls of empty wings
Expurgated rooms extend;
When the wrecker comes, they end,
Broken down to formless things.
I'm not Faust, and will not pray
Time to take the time to dwell;
Status quo is gait of hell.
let those rooms be done away.
Academic monies buy
Only what it pays to know;
Newer fabrications grow
Where the older legends lie.
As the building comes apart,
Driven by a subtler trend,
Means that justify and end
Subsidize the wrecker's art
Past, reknown for past renown,
Cannot generate returns,
Just the interest it earns.
Tear that tattered engram down.
-Professor Emeritus Jerome Lettvin
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 1, 1998.