Death By Zeitgeist
The Good People of the WorldBy Devoot Majundar
I don’t really take to writing uplifting pieces very often, and today is no exception. It really takes a Leadershape-like experience or a Sunday morning enema to get me smiling needlessly. The only benefit to being optimistic is the ability to lie to yourself better. On that note, I present to you an unsweetened account of my four-day weekend. And for kicks, I insult 25 different groups of people along the way, in case you were counting.
While marathoners found their own inner strength this glorious Patriot’s Day weekend, I found only my own personal pinnacle of depravity. I guess that’s only to be expected when all I’ve got is this near-empty bottle of cognac, this dirty room that I grudgingly showed prefrosh parents, this pair of lungs closer to emphysema than ever, and this playlist that keeps playing songs that have since been covered or sampled by the scions of MTV cool.
All the while, a line comes to me from a Sheryl Crow song: “The good people of the world are washing their cars on their lunchbreaks.” Well, the good people of my world are bracing for the future; they’re fucking their future fiancÉes or they’re sitting in a circle getting drunk and talking about the last “Apprentice” episode or they’re already making an e-mail list of brothers they’d like to pledge in the fall or, best of all, they’re in Athena because finals are just weeks away. And I respect them all because at least they’re thinking of something other than the minute amount of hallucinogen in the cough syrup that I’m sipping.
“That’s some great weather we’ve been getting here.” That seems to have been the beat to which the world marched this weekend, with or without me. To everyone who smalltalked me about the weather, remind yourself of what an unfortunate midriff bulge looks like, then play an easy game of Where’s Waldo. Remind yourself about insects and Duck Tours, and bear in mind that this weekend’s weather caused some kid to choose MIT over Princeton. Now, did that really need to happen?
In protest, I stayed indoors, pulled out some Vonnegut and did a good half hour of battle with my ADD. After reading about a widow contemplating suicide and a predatory fat man on his seventeenth marriage, I was done being literate. I sat around and looked at the pictures in my room, and noticed my picture of Elliott Smith, recently deceased.
Then, I got a phone call from my friend Paul who wanted me to look up the next showing of “Kill Bill” at the Commons, as he was already en route. That’s another thing the good people of the world are doing: watching “Kill Bill 2.”
And by this point, I was just in one of those moods. The kind of mood that inspires you to step into the Cambridgeport Saloon, if only to imagine where everyone is concealing their weapons. It’s the kind of mood that makes you want to go to Alpine Bagels and publicly urinate, if only to make it clear that you shouldn’t have to wait an hour for a small pizza. It’s the kind of mood that makes you want to start a fake Yahoo e-mail account and send Michael Moore a completely false tip, if only to waste a week of his life.
The thing is, this entire weekend, it seems the only thing I’ve heard is the numbing yelp of supportive people cheering on their friends. At Next House’s production of “Guys and Dolls” it was “Go [Random Asian Girl]!”; at the SAAS culture show, it was “Go [Random Indian Girl]!”; and at ZBT’s Battle of the Bands, it was “Go [Random white boy in that band from Baker]!” After four years, you begin to realize that on-campus events amount to little more than artistic schlock, littered with the corny enthusiasm that comes with knowing someone on stage. And even when an on-campus event lacks any redeeming value, we breathe life into the phrase “Good for MIT.”
If anything, this weekend of amusement and great weather has led me to detest the single thing that ties all of us MIT undergrads together: our flair for pretense. All weekend long, I’ve heard prefrosh air their idiotic concerns, I’ve seen people enthusiastically apploaud disastrous performances, and I’ve eavesdropped on PiLams telling prefrosh just how special their frat is. Instead of enjoying the relaxing weekend that Patriot’s day should have been, I find myself only paralyzed with contempt.
I imagine that the advantage of being a ripe old 70 years old is that you see no point whatsoever in putting on pretenses or tolerating them in others. Until then, however, I’ll just have to keep enjoying this fruitless game of undermining the good people of the world, one insult at a time.