But the more I thought about this movie, the more I realized it simply gives an illusion of depth. A movie filmed with somewhat unconventional techniques, or featuring naturalistic dialogue and little plot, is automatically assumed to be “artsy” and thus philosophical, by association with the style of the French New Wave.
Rorschach tests and free-association exercises seem to me too well known, too expected to be useful for psychoanalysis. But I have found a new test to capture the shallower motions of our subconscious: the words of students childishly bumbling and … Read More
Late one Friday night, buzzed and carrying packs of sour candy from the Wa, I wandered to a room in Whitman. As my host and I sat on her bed, alternating handfuls of Sour Patch and some other Technicolor monstrosity, her roommate decided to show me a video for “Beauty and a Beat,” performed and directed by everyone’s favorite cultural punching bag: Justin Bieber.
Princeton students are special. We’ve been told this upon every rite of passage we have experienced. No one ever dares to contest that they have near-superhuman aptitudes for creativity and hard work, Renaissance men and women all, steeped in the finest principles of humanism. Yet there is one thing in which we cannot manage to surpass the national average.
Like many sports that rely on brute force, taekwondo sometimes requires athletes to cut weight. We just call it cutting, which to outsiders might evoke associations with another kind of unhealthy behavior. My 5’2” frame is small enough that many are surprised I need to cut at all, but not quite small enough to fit into weight classes created for tiny-boned Korean women.
When I googled the meaning of my last name, I felt the same way I felt while visiting the museum at Gettysburg when a docent urged me to search the database and see if my ancestors had been involved in the battle.
If you ask me who my favorite writer is, I’ll probably say Albert Camus, because I love his writing and his ideas and also because his name is recognizable and thus me liking him helps construct a certain image of me. But I am less moved by Camus and the Nobel-prize-crowned glory of his rhetoric than by one more obscure author, whose ideas boil down to little more than a grammar of unhappiness: my favorite novelist, Romain Gary.
Before the war, I often perched on the fence of the cow pasture to watch the trains go by. That was well before I was unable to stand the sound of trains. I had nothing else to do besides throwing rocks in the muddled Risle and memorizing geometry and morality lessons until everything mingled irremediably in my head. My only friend was Adam, though sometimes his cousin Anne, who was a year younger than we were—but just as sharp if not more—would tag along with us when we went down by the outskirts of town to smoke cigarettes and kick a ball back and forth.
The following passage is adapted from the opening of Albert Camus’ The Plague, which is a description of Oran, a city in French Algeria, in the 1940s. I have translated it into English and into the setting of Princeton in 2013 (office jobs become classwork, going to the movies is replaced by the more common pastime of the Internet and so on), but those are the only changes I believe I have made.