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Magazine Preview: Our Super Sad True Columbia Story

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We’ll let you know when the November issue of The Blue and White arrives in buildings on campus, but until then, enjoy the entire issue as we preview it on Bwog.

In an nontraditional marketing move, author and Columbia professor Gary Shteyngart attempted to attract a different set of readers to his summer release, Super Sad True Love Story. Rather than courting subscribers of the New York Review of Books, Shteyngart released a series of videos aimed more at the Gawker set. An interviewed Columbia student shares that her favorite class with Shteyngart was “his seminar on how to behave at a Paris Review party”–smash cut to Shteyngart swirling wine in a plastic cup and commenting, “I do so much prefer early Ian McEwan to late Ian McEwan,” while his students, including James Franco, imitate him.

It’s not just Shteyngart who can’t read in the dystopian future world of Love Story, where books are antiquated relics. There are riots in Central Park, our Chinese creditors are getting fed up, and everyone is entirely dependent on a sinister descendant of the iPhone, the äppärät, which displays an individual’s vital stats, including hotness and fuckability. Yet, even in Shteyngart’s world, Barnard, and presumably Columbia, persists. So welcome to future Columbia circa, let’s say… next Tuesday.

First, our äppäräts will have to have a special Columbia setting recalibrating hotness to fit the standards of our academic bubble. A student glancing up from his perpetually low fuckability rating will pass a new Columbia landmark–the rotating tombs of Foner and Delbanco. Before they pass away, the two professors will have commissioned special spinning sepulchers from the engineering school, ensuring that they will be rolling in their graves for the rest of time.

This student will now continue on to University Reading. Columbia, ever-preoccupied with preserving lost arts, will have finally given up getting people to care about the musical stylings of Josquin des Prez and shifted its attention to preserving the art of literacy. The syllabus will include the seminal works of the last era of literate humanity, Atlas Shrugged and tutorials on the Julia Roberts’ Eat, Pray, Love iPhone app.

After class, our student will go grab coffee (some things, thankfully, never change). IAB is closest, but the building, now a bomb shelter, requires a retina scan to enter. The student proffers his eye only to be blinded by the always-broken light (some things, not thankfully, never change).

Our one-eyed student stumbles back across campus toward Butler, passing the Center for Career ReEducation, and almost misses Columbia’s main financier, Glenn Beck. Now that Columbia’s endowment portfolio consists solely of Goldline gold, hawked by Beck during commercial breaks on Fox News, there are obvious improvements to the campus, such as the Low Plaza Digital Sundial.

Butler, taking a cue from Low, is now also book-less, and consists solely of Butler Cafe and 209. Our student, still singed, gets himself a latte and sinks down into one of the blue chairs. He pulls out his äppärät and waits. Like everyone else in the room, he isn’t doing any work. The many flatscreen TVs in the former library display the end of life as we know it–ROTC forcing freshman COÖPers up a mountain, the Upper West Side’s Wal*Mart grand opening, and the 1 train skipping from 242nd Street to 14th Street. Unfazed, our student pokes his nose over the rim of his device at his Butler companions, waiting for the inevitable: it will get later and later, people will care less and less, and finally (hopefully before the predicted firestorm) his fuckability rating will go up.

–Hannah Lepow
Illustration by Cindy Pan

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6 Comments

  1. hmm  

    what the heck to people learn in classes like that?

  2. ...  

    sounds like cory doctorow's book, terry gilliam's movie, mike moore's generation y documentary making progeny and mike bloomberg's city had a giant orgy and a book crawled out of the puddle of sludge that was left behind...

  3. agh  

    good book, pointless article. an actual interview with him would be preferred.

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