The Rachel Coffee Mugs?

I was wandering though the RHD office the other day and noticing the tiny things people do to personalize their desks/cubicles.  First, there seems to be an alarming propensity towards ‘flavour of the month’ posters… zombie apocalypse stuff, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, lots of current sci-fi and fantasy, Big Bang Theory… smattered in amongst images of ancient monuments, medieval art, Latin quotes and highbrow literature crap.  But it’s the coffee mugs that are really interesting… they’re like the modern ceramic equivalent of The Rachel Papers 😛

Some humble coffee mugs seem to be deployed in an attempt to convey a sense of gravitas.  That gravitas being conveniently appropriated from any number of prestigious international museums, great learning institutions and prominent art galleries.  Lurking on the desks of serious RHD students, these seemingly innocuously mugs valiantly attempt to bestow their owners with a badge of worldly sophistication, studiousness and academic intensity!  😉

art museum galleries library prestigious

Some mugs appear to silently screaming, “Ahem.  Have you noticed how well read I am?  Oh, and should you have any doubts as to the veracity of my claim… please refer to my handy coffee mug which, as you see, is extolling some pithy or erudite literary quote.”  Someone once suggested that these subtle declarations are an obvious attempt to cover up the fact that many of us… even those attempting to scale the lofty heights of academic achievement… feel like frauds and we are desperately trying not to be found out!  Let’s hope the speculations of that hapless feck (who shall remain nameless) are unfounded.  😛

literature books well read pride prejudice expectations banned

Some of the cohort sport not so much coffee mugs in their illustrious cubicles, as this moniker would somehow demean their very existence, but rather fine bone china tea cups… that just happen to be in fashionable mug-like form.  Perhaps these are some sort of subconscious attempt to demonstrate that one appreciates the finer things in life!  And while one may have to slum it with the youngins in the communal bowels of the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue, that doesn’t necessarily mean that one need actually become one of them!  😉

fine china royal albert doulton villeroy boch

Some other noticeable hot beverage receptacles (and these are some of my favourites!) are all about the art, darling!  It very much reminds me once of a first year BVA student pointing out from her fortunate middle class upbringing in a first world country, with her privileged position at a good university and her significantly parentally subsidised lifestyle, that “Poverty is all part of the artist’s struggle.” (yes, still makes me scoff as much now as it did then!)  Maybe these artsy fartsy mugs are intended to attempt to show the collected academic cohort that surrounds their owners, that they are well rounded culture vulture types, and obviously engaged with the world through more than their ultra-specific, and infinitesimally narrow and pointed fields of research.  For indeed, if one engages and identifies with the arts in some way, shape or form, one must of course both understand and appreciate the import of ‘art’ in the global history of human endeavour!  😀

art history cave painting roman mosaic sistine chapel gogh starry night

Some mugs, and admittedly these more prevalent than the previous categories according to my brief survey, are covered in signs and symbols of popular or geek culture… little clues for the initiated in order that one may gain a sense of belonging, being ‘in’ on the jokes, identifying with a clique, express fandom… basically being one of the cool kids.  A small but personally important rebellion against the uptight academic bureaucracy within which they suddenly find themselves an insignificantly teeny little cog!  :S

popular culture big bang theory dr who zombie android stay puft

Then there are the coffee mugs that appear to be carrying the inordinate burden of attempting to convey not only art, art history, contemporary and popular culture, humour, literary knowledge, history and god knows what else by attempting to mash together two or more of these elements into a cohesive design that somehow is intended to encapsulate that entire ‘Interests’ section of someone resume that no one ever reads!

science darwin shakespeare van gogh ipad zombie warhol

But however humble (or pretentious), all these mugs have one thing in common… they are an expression of individuality in a faceless, and predominantly nameless office environment full of transient students all working on very diverse areas of study often with little or nothing in common, who share few common work hours and a horribly cramped and depressingly depersonalised space.   So, the question presents itself…  how best to throw the cat amongst the pigeons and introduce myself to my fellow RHD students?   😀

jesus christian queen elizabeth twilight guns beretta

Oh, but of course, I mustn’t actually rule out that maybe they’re just drinking vessels for tea and coffee and have actually been picked up as freebies in a conference bag or represents the last one of a broken set or has simply been bought from home and is effectively ‘that mug I don’t care if someone nicks from the uni kitchen’.   😛

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