Sometimes, having a “philosophy” class of people who have good opinions isn’t enough! Senior Staff Writer Victoria Borlando is here to tell you the recipe for getting an evenly spicy blend of people for the best CC seminar.
Like it or not, Contemporary Civilizations is a Core-required seminar that will produce some of the most unforgettable discourse one would ever hear. From every upperclassmen I talk to, I hear about some outlandish opinion, a jarring comment, a truly bizarre anecdote—I could go on.
However, I only have a month of experience in this course, and I have to be honest: I’m a little disappointed. Everyone in my class is pretty cool and gives some relatively insightful comments on the required readings for the class session. No one did anything wild yet, and the only thing entertaining me in this class is good analysis on boring books. I need more spice.
Maybe it’s a need for escapism in this especially draining time of my college career; maybe it’s Maybelline. However, I decided to play Plato myself and construe a perfect CC seminar that would provide me with the entertainment I need. So, I created a list of fourteen celebrities (since 15 is the average-sized class) I want to be placed in my CC seminar to maximize philosophy learned, conclusions formed, and entertainment obtained.
And now, here is Section 1000 of the 2020-2021 Contemporary Civilizations course:
- Julian Casablancas: Aside from having an extensive, impressive discography beginning in 2001 that has influenced literally every indie rock band formed after Is This It?, I think Casablancas would be the in-your-face, alternative NYC local that every CC discussion section requires. Based on past instances—like growing out of liking New York, having vocal opinions about brunch, and questioning freedom of speech—Casablancas would, in my opinion, be a really good debater. He’d be that classmate that seemingly always disagrees with you, spends the whole class trying to out-philosophy you with his strong takes on Thomas Hobbes’ ideal government, but overall respects your point of view. He’d also be the person in your class you’d spend the entire time staring at because his energy just screams “You want to run away with me!”
- Sufjan Stevens: This man would be the person who speaks a total of three times a semester, but every single time he speaks, he’d talk for 10 minutes uninterrupted, somehow relating every text back to the New Testament and/or a psalm, even if the psalms aren’t on the syllabus. He’s the guy your class would depend upon for the religious text sections, has encyclopedic knowledge about the Ancient Greeks, and even though he doesn’t really participate, he would crush everyone in the final essay portion of the CC class.
- Bjork: We—and I cannot stress this enough—need more weird women in our lives. Bjork is a textbook eccentric and would spend so much time talking about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, even asking everyone else upfront if they felt like they were living in the shadows their whole lives. On the other hand, I think she’d be relatively quiet when it is not her time to speak, but she would have something cool to say about every topic and text. I’ll admit, most of her questions and answers to discussion questions would be self-inserts about her own absurd views on the world, but no one would ever hate her for it! Most of the time, her outlandish contributions would allow for easy engagement from the rest of the seminar, and we’d end up having a really fun time with otherwise bland texts by entertaining Ms. Bjork’s weird, weird world.
- Grimes: She quoted Stalin in her high school’s yearbook, and now she’s dating the ‘Prince Philip for the men who decked a twelve-year-old in front of a McDonalds for some expired Szechuan sauce.’ I want to be in a class with her because I want to hear her thoughts on both hard Leftist theory and classical liberal ideology just to see where exactly she fits in her relationship with ‘local dumbass with too much power and money’, Elon Musk. How long would it take for her to counter every argument made against her agreeing with Karl Marx? What are her opinions on the Catholic Church and the Bible? How can she justify “You quit at being good when you declare a state of war!” from “Kill v. Maim” when she had a literal alien child with a man who’s initial fortune came from profiting off the Apartheid in South Africa?
- Robert Pattinson: I feel like any seminar would be enhanced by Robert Pattinson’s presence. Now, I could easily go down the “Oh! He’s weird and funny!” route when justifying his placement in my fantasy CC class. However, I just think that his entire attitude toward character study offers an insight into subverting what it means to tell a story and if there is such a thing as ‘sole authenticity.’ After all, his completely deranged Edward Cullen challenges Stephanie Meyer’s original image of a dreamy, aloof vampire hottie while also getting the awkwardness and creepiness of the character seem as authentic to the book as it could have possibly been. The way he reads into people, whether fictitious or real, could give my CC section a new angle in a philosophic debate. He’d also just drink 32 oz of pure espresso and refuse to blink while waiting for his turn to speak.
- Fiona Apple: This woman will be the smartest (and most vocal) person in the room HANDS DOWN, and even my professor wouldn’t stand a chance against her. She’d counter Rousseau with almost every song in Fetch the Bolt Cutters and would easily destroy Plato’s Allegory of the Cave with “Shadowboxer” from her debut album, Tidal. Furthermore, anything a man has said about the cosmos—especially in relation to human nature—appears two-dimensional and tepid next to Apple’s brilliant comparison of herself to the mysterious yet grandiose movements of space and time in “I Want You to Love Me” from Fetch the Bolt Cutters. I could continue on how Fiona Apple would dismantle every argument both by the philosophers and the men in our seminar with relevant personal anecdotes and insightful observations, but for sake of time, I will simply say: stream her entire discography and feel every human emotion.
- Liam Gallagher: Lead singer, tambourine player, and wielder of the UK’s fifth best-selling album of all time (as of 2016), this man would provide nothing but boiling hot takes that would ultimately mean nothing. Though I really do enjoy his music, I just want him to be in my CC section because I’m obsessed with his Twitter. He tweets “BUMBACLART” (almost) every single day, and he also just keeps threatening to reunite Oasis to cope with political decisions by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Sometimes, he’ll just tweet a really long, incomprehensible fact about Oasis’ breakup; others, just….words? He clearly has no filter—gifting us with some of the most iconic moments in recent music history—so I think he’d say something absurd, probably refuting every single claim ever made by a famous philosopher. And in the midst of saying things for shock factor, he’ll probably say something kind of nuanced, which would throw everyone through a philosophical loop (in a good way). We need that in our lives!
- Noel Gallagher: He wrote almost every Oasis song, and still writes good music, providing some introspective lyrics that could be fruitful to the conversation. However, he’s only here because I want to see him fight with his despised brother, both during class discussion and physically in front of the Butler Library. Even though there’s bound to be a conflict of opinions in a CC class, I just want the spiciness of a family feud behind each argument. He’d definitely be the better classmate for pretty much everyone, but admittedly, no one would be able to separate his independent and profound thoughts from his really weird brother.
- Gerard Way: Who doesn’t want to sit with this man and hear him talk about life’s most pressing questions? His role in my seminar would be the quiet, validating person who sits on the rounded edge of the table, nodding his head and only speaking when he has formed a profound, transcendental thought that no one can dispute because it’s so…correct. He would analyze every text and master the art of synthesizing information, formulating a new mode of thinking derived from elements of the old. Furthermore, I feel like he’d be the person to back up all his points with books from the Lit Hum canon just to give us the extra context of the world of fiction shaping (and being shaped by) the nonfiction around it. He’d counter every sexist theory about women’s place in society with his own deconstruction of gender theory, and his points regarding the religious texts (especially the Catholic ones) would probably end up somewhere published in the next updated version of the Catechism. Furthermore, I think he’d have some interesting takes on the Ancient Greeks (everything goes back to the Allegory of the Cave) simply because of his beautiful (solo) song, “Into the Cave We Wander.” In other words, I just want to hear Gerard speak!
- St.Vincent: I’ve mentioned that we need more weird women in our lives, but did I mention that we need more powerful women, also? She’d be the classmate who stares everyone down and barely takes notes but has every philosophical text annotated, ready to go with any counterarguments and disputes. I just think St. Vincent is a badass, and I want her in my class.
- Richard Siken: I reread his poetry collections every now and then (especially the poem, “I Had a Dream About You”) when I need to feel every emotion. He would be the person to harshly critique all the texts that essentially boil down to “humans are stinky, evil monsters and commit heinous crimes when not moderated by a government”, and he would constantly challenge antiquated claims about “freedom” and “justice.” In short, I think Siken would be the CC classmate that restores your faith in humanity every time he speaks.
- FKA Twigs: This woman is the embodiment of the avant-garde, but not as much as Bjork and/or Grimes. Whereas the other two are straight-up absurd, FKA Twigs would be saying weird shit, but not to provoke any sort of reaction. Instead, she’d be the person in our CC class who would give us a life-changing analysis on both the antiquated and modern texts while also bringing in her own theories of gender relations in each text to the table. In short, she’d have much to say that I would want to listen to, and I think that I’d still cry even if she wrote a song about The Social Contract. I’d want to read her essays, most of all.
- Megan Fox: She’s in this class because her best friend (in this scenario I constructed, not in real life, unfortunately), Fiona Apple signed up, but she is just as vocal as her and has just as many valuable points. Not only would she fight with all the philosophers that fuel the personalities of the CC man stereotype (ex. Hegel, Marx, Machiavelli, Sartre, Kant, any other man who just really likes talking about the übermensch in one way or the other), but she would be the one person who’s willing to shut up some of the class’ men’s pretentious “we live in a SOCIETY” claims. She’d be a treasure for every woman in the room, offering us a slightly less heart wrenching (but just as passionate) version of Fiona Apple.
- Bono: He’s BONO. You know that man just exudes “I have so much knowledge about Western philosophy” energy, and you also know that all his arguments would be backed up with anecdotes about his cool, rockstar life. I need not explain further; this last edition to the lineup is here simply because he’s Bono and he’s incredible.
As you can see, this list of people enrolled in my CC class is incredibly powerful. The present question remains: how the hell do we balance this amount of raw energy emanating from each person?
Fret not, reader who has endured so many words already. Using my unreasonable and elusive application of logic, as well as a seating chart software program, I have decided that this would be exactly the way each person would sit in the class.
Dead Guys We’re Still Talking About via Pixabay
Seating Chart via Victoria Borlando on EdrawMax