In France we have a quite peculiar higher education system. Students that were particularly successful in highschool usually choose to attend a "prepa", nicknamed "taupe" (french for "mole") after getting their A-Levels. Basically it's a selective two-year program meant to prepare students for the admission competition exams of France's top scientific institutions. That are way more selective even. Well, actually the same system exists for humanities but that's pretty anecdotal...
The taupe is quite an experience. Not usually a very positive one. It certainly wasn't, for me.
Basically it's an extremely closed, self-sufficient universe where teachers and students perception of reality is utterly distorted and focused on academic selection. Of the senselessly elitist kind. It has its legends, its underlying concepts. It's a quite cruel world if you're not among the most brilliant of your class. Which I certainly wasn't.
When you enter the prepa you quickly start forgetting there is anything else to life. You wake up at school, work all day on maths and physics problems of which you don't even understand the first word, while listening to "elite" teachers explaining to you how much you suck and how bad you're going to fail, then eat and go to sleep improbably late, still at school. Every day. You spend most of your week-ends at school, too. And you keep on studying throughout the holidays. The competition exams come after two years of putting up with that shit. But, yeah, I'm out now. All that is left of that time are some rare nightmares, and the shadow of a regret... Oh, and a few amazing friends.
Anyway. This piccy would be the cover of a sort of guide of the "taupe" (which means, indeed, "mole" and not "taupe"), a booklet with useful info about the competition exams, work methods, and so on, created by students of my school (one of those school you get accepted to if you haven't failed your exams too bad) and distributed to first year taupe students nationwide (that's 11k copies).
There's a symbology of sorts going on, the details of which probably hardly anybody will notice. Main notions are hope (well, the poor dudes are only just entering the system, and the output can potentially be exceptionally beneficial), descent (cause it's fucking hell, come on), complexity overflow, helplessness, and guidance, or at least some semblance of it, all five interacting.
Most striking thing in the pic would be the girl's lack of eyebags. She's clearly only one week or so into the journey.
PS CS4, ~10 hours, no refs.
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