One day this summer, sitting in a blank white apartment that was not mine, I felt a strange weariness. This apartment was full of more books than I will probably ever read and I had fellowships to apply to and emails to write and the whole Internet in front of me and all of New York City clamoring outside.
Who would have given a damn about me if not for that box?
As punishment for Prometheus’ gift of fire, the gods gave me to men. They gave me to men. I was a poisoned gift. But the importance of a poisoned gift is the venom it bears, not the gift. The box, not Pandora.
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.
Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano’s most famous novel, Dora Bruder, is something like a ghost story, though not in the traditional sense. It is a ghostly story about a young man and a nation haunted by history. Modiano received the Nobel Prize in literature in 2014, the fifteenth French writer to do so after the 2008 laureate Jean- Marie Georges Le Clézio. While Le Clézio’s writing is sensual and tinted with exoticism, Modiano’s is sparse, introspective, and heav- ily autobiographical, sometimes even termed “autofiction.”
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.
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.