What I Learned in College, in 372 Words

In college I majored in Victorian novels and travel writing and cold unfeeling minimal house. I dated and fell in love with delicate abstractions of my own thoughts, many of them. I learned that structures based on recounting the tales of old truths is what academia is.

University of Chicago, Early Spring 2011

That in spite of the putatively groundbreaking research occurring somewhere behind those ivy-covered walls, in spite of students’ yearning for something more tangibly modern, contemporary… tangible, and in spite of my friends’ numerous, furtive gchat sessions complaining of obscene workloads and a dearth of straightforward coursework that would prepare them for the rest of their lives in art appraisal, investment banking, wild and crazy Silicon Valley startups where people wear cheap flip flops or Birkenstocks every day to work, we continue to insist that walking blind and backward into a world that requires more visual acuity and foresight than any before it is the smart or prudent thing to do. In a world that needs certainty I was taught relativity. To argue for proof of truths but also to cloyingly dance around them, lest I step on them, because I was told that there would be nothing in that center. That there is no fact. Because, dude, like you could just kiss that shit goodbye. Um, if it was there to begin with. But it, like, maybe probably hadn’t been there at all. Like ever. Truth.

But this much I’ve learned, lately: sometimes people are tremendously unintelligent, sometimes they do drag on the system, and sometimes it’s okay to say that. Because it’s true, sometimes. I’ve learned that 42% of Detroit is functionally illiterate. And I’ve learned that even the most stridently optimistic of my friends can, with time, let go of that optimism and have a hard time picking it up again. But let me tell you something, I’ve also learned that newfound optimism, shed relativism, and a belief that there is indeed something called “truth” out there is a gift to those who’ve never had it, more so than it is a benefit to those who’ve had it always. I’ve discovered the perverse relationship between optimism, sincerity and spirituality. It’s good to be out and working on something I can believe in.


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