For their final issue of The Blue and White, editor in chief Conor Skelding, CC ’14, and managing editor Anna Bahr, BC ’14, duked it out over Who Knows What They’re Talking About in a favorite reoccurring feature of prose and cons, “At Two Swords’ Length“. You, dear readers, have the pleasure of being their judge n jury. Maybe they’re both confused. Look forward to the new issue of the mag, in its glorious blue ink, on campus this week.
Affirmative by Conor Skelding
Anna will argue that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Well, fine. Neither does she.
Illustration by Angel Jiang, CC ’15
I know that you can’t be alone, and you can’t be together. You stay home, and there’s Facebook—there are the 44 likes on your rival’s status, some of them from your mutual friends. Your rival posted an article somebody else wrote, plus one “sentence” of “analysis” (e.g., “such an important and brave piece”). You go out, and there’s your goddamn friend, tapping away with their thumbs, liking that post, or sending missives to someone who, while they’re not present, are evidently more immediate. Then there are the miserable people whose entire earthly lives are only a break from Temple Run.
Now I’m drinking with friends. And one of those friends is a self-styled photographer (this means that they own something called a DSLR, which is a camera that costs more than $1,000 dollars). And since they are a photographer, they must document their lives (that is called being authentic).
And since they must document their lives with their DSLR, they have assumed the superhuman power of capturing one moment, one perspective, and immortalizing it. (“Immortalizing it” might be overstating it. But it is safe to say that whatever image they “create” will last until the end of human civilization. Depending whom you ask, this means between several months and several billion years.)
As I understand it millennialism, it is the idea that some cosmically heavy shit goes down whenever human civilization undergoes the turn from anno domini 999 to 1000, or 1999 to 2000.
(Imagine the turn from A.D. 2999 to 3000. We will be computers by then. The singularity will have arrived. We will be ships, on our way to becoming obelisks.)
So we underwent 1999/2000. Y2K. I was eight years old then. That was pre-9/11. That was back when the phrase “checking my email” had discrete meaning. Now, we read incoming emails within 30 sordid seconds of their arrival.
I remember, in 2005, it wasn’t yet acceptable to spend all one’s time in front of a computer. The Internet was still for losers. Now we’re all hunched over our computers. Yesterday I was walking down 39th Street, engrossed by some bullshit email. Somebody yelled at me, “Pay attention!”
Then there are the people who say, “But with Google Books, we can read any public domain book ever written!” To that I say these two things:
(1) When Herodotus’s Histories faces off against every depravity imaginable, guess which wins? What did that widely acclaimed puppet-play say?
(2) That depends on how we define the terms “read” and “book.”
Lee C. Bollinger and the Undergraduate Committee on Global Thought’s committee on online education, will hypocritically say that MOOCs mean democratization of education. Tell that to the English adjunct at Big State U who’s lost his job because the Senior Associate Dean of Quality Control decided it’d be more cost-effective and brand-strengthening to license a “Harvard-quality” Shakespeare lecture than pay him $6,000 per semester. And then tell that to the poor sons of bitches around the globe coughing up for that MOOC who, unlike students at a particular school in Boston, can’t actually talk with this renowned Harvard Shakespearean.
Food and sex. That’s all we’ve got left.
Let’s see what Anna has to say