At Two Swords' Length:

Are You Doing Anything Tonight?

AFFIRMATIVE

By Alex Swanson

 

Why yes, I will certainly, unequivocally doing something tonight--I mean, this is college. The greatest college in the greatest university in the greatest city in the universe! I’ve already read the first 12 books the the Iliad! The spears were phalluses and the shields were vaginas! Everybody died at the end! That's exactly what college is going to be like, right? I'm so excited to be here!

 

I've heard that Greek life is big here. I've heard that I can get into any club downtown with my Columbia ID. I’ve heard that if I want the Trustees to draw a portrait of my ass, I need only ask. I've heard pretty girls will talk to me on the 1 train only if I am reading early Horkheimer and that the "swim test" is actually a cocktail party with James Wood as the only other attendee. I've heard that Drake lives in Hartley 6A and the bartender at Cannons plays the crooked politician from House of Cards. I’ve heard that all tunnels lead to the human resources division of Goldman Sachs. I've heard that if I kiss the exact spot on College Walk where Barack Obama and Gayatri Spivak crossed paths I will be the first in my class to simultaneously achieve native proficiency in Sanskrit and perish in a drone strike. I've heard that if I kill my roommate and dump his body into the Hudson, Columbia Housing will provide me with a two therapeutic nutella kittens and a complimentary air conditioning unit. I’ve heard that there’s a dorm where all the rooms are sinks. I’ve heard that the housing lottery is Russian Roulette with drones. I've heard that the work study students are unionizing and the ghost of Said haunts Uris cafe. I've heard that I can join the revolution, or at least Teach for America. There's so much to do!!

 

After all, Allen Ginsberg, who is the man pictured in the poster on the wall behind me, has a point when he tells us “Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!” Moloch rhymes with Wallach! It all makes sense now.

 

I can’t wait to try out my new fake at Cannons! (It only cost $400 which they told me is really cheap!) I can’t wait to go to a football game! (We have those, right?) I can’t wait to figure out what the good places to eat around here are! I can’t wait to learn econometrics, work a 80-hour week finance internship, get hired full time by BCG, marry Robert deNiro, break up with him because I’m sleeping with Selma Hayek, lose my job and live the life of a homeless heroin addict in LA! I can’t wait to write a Spec op-ed!

 

For college behooves us to stride into the pasturelands of opportunity! To pluck the tallest shoots! Of the ripest reeds! To plow the field and sow the good crop so that we may nourish ourselves upon the most ambrosial of life’s sweet grain, Adventure!

 

For to go out is to feel, to feel is to be humane, and to be humane charts us in celestial alignment with all the wishes and fantasies of our creator. To go out is to reach towards immortality! I can’t wait until strippers are doing shots out of my bellybutton while I ride a white tiger through a rainbow of a thousand dreams (that's our mascot, right, strippers? Or rainbows?). Everything is going to be so dope!!!! College!!!!


So, to answer your question, of course I'm doing something tonight. Why do you think I stuck your towel in the crack under our door?

 

NEGATIVE

By Alexander Pines

Of course I’m not doing anything tonight.

 

Look, I get it, you’re going out, expanding your horizons, basking in the sweaty glow of our very first week of college, but what even is “going out,” anyway? Aren’t we all “out” in some manner of speaking—out of our parents’ nests, out of our comfort zones, out of clean underwear even though we’ve only been here for a matter of days? What even is the difference between spending an evening in this cinderblock hell and the booze-spackled frat house across the street?

 

Going further, I’m not sure what the preoccupation with “doing things” is in the first place. We spent the last thirteen years of our lives doing things to get into a place where we’ll have to do more things, all to get a job where we get to do things for the rest of our sad little lives. Fuck that. Is reading and annotating The Iliad in its entirety before the first day of Lit Hum really going to land me that amazing job in finance/investment banking/law in four years? (Obviously not, because every third word is “nipple.”) Must I “network” with drunk 18-year-olds for the next four hours to get a jumpstart on my LinkedIn follower count? I refuse.

 

You can tell I’m serious about this, that’s why I made sure to put up my framed Fight Club poster above my bed as soon as I moved in. I know you think you have some try-hard poser for a roommate, but Tyler’s on to something: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place.” Why else is Butler 209 the hottest club in New York on a Saturday night—we’re a school full of people who only learned how to be productive, not happy.

 

Can’t you see that by being so concerned with constantly doing things you’re just a tool of the system? FOMO, YOLO, [insert more acronyms], they’re all symptoms of the same disease: capitalism. And when we talk about going out and ‘doing stuff,’ we’re really just talking about producing: you downed this much vodka, you got this many phone numbers, you were out this late and spent this much money. But none of this is experience. You are not your Instagram follower count, your number of Facebook friends, your Foursquare check-ins. Sitting alone in your room and pretending that the flakes of paint chipping off the ceiling are stars is just as enriching as going out and Snapchatting phonies in your OL group about the Cool New York Thing They Didn’t Do—all of the anxiety you’re feeling about needing to go out was manufactured by The Man, man. Even Nicki Minaj, queen of my heart, throws a shout out to Myx Moscato in “The Night Is Still Young.” It’s all a lie!

 

So no, I’m not doing anything tonight at all. I am going to bathe in the fluorescent sheen of this Carman double and try to achieve a truly blank state of mind. That’s true resistance. That’s fighting the power. I’m a rebel, damn it. So what if my sheets are Egyptian cotton and I’m wearing a two thousand dollar watch? And you know what, I don’t need friends—hell, they know that even if I did get invited to a party I wouldn’t go. That’s probably why they didn’t invite me.