At Two Swords’ Length: Is This It?

Table of Contents

p1 {font-family:’weissregular’}
p1 {font-size:230%}
p8 {text-align: justify}

At Two Swords’ Length: Is This It?

AFFIRMATIVE

By Torsten Odland

 

This is it. Once I sit back down in my folding chair, diploma in hand, I won’t have anything to celebrate.

 

My dad always said, “Get a college diploma, it’s like a ticket.” When he says ticket, he’s thinking of the first-class one he’s got in his pocket, marked for a flight that leaves for Grand Cayman in two hours. But my ticket? It’s like a crumpled receipt for overnight bus service. Even if the bus comes, you don’t want to go where it’s going.

 

I mean, think of all the problems in the world that college has kept me safe from: disagreement, poverty, intolerance, Ebola—I’ve been saved. And Dr. Oz says there’s this new nanovirus or something…I changed the channel when it went to commercial but supposedly it’s from Peru or Croatia or something like that? Wow.

 

But it’s not just diseases or bacteria—the people in this world are crazy. And I’m supposed to just be tossed out there after graduation?

 

I was reading the other day about these dogs from China or Vancouver or something—big dogs, giant, they look like wolves but with really soft-looking fur. Seen one? Anyway, supposedly they were super popular in Tibet, some kind of status symbol (we talked about it in sociology class once). The dogs used to go for thousands of dollars, but now no one wants them. So there are a bunch of these giant dogs, they look like stuffed animals, I swear, just with no purpose to their lives! No one wants them! How sad is that?

 

But the really crazy thing is that these dogs only get sold if they don’t have a saggy face. Like, I get that. No one wants a dog that looks like a prune when they are a puppy. That’s not the crazy part. The crazy part is that these dogs get plastic surgery so they can sell better. So these people just give dogs plastic surgery to fix their wrinkles, like are you serious? How evil are you?

 

That reminds me, my friend was telling me a few weeks ago about this kid he knew that killed a cat. Just did it. Went out and did it. Woke up one morning, I don’t know, thought about it, got up and killed a cat… Like a pet, a cat. Well, who knows if it was a pet, might have been one of those feral things… But still, can you imagine? Who does that?

 

The really messed-up thing is that people don’t really try to figure out why these things happen. They don’t get that it’s deeper problems—power, money, you name it. I get it though. My dad always said, work hard, that’s how I went from a shoeshine boy to owning the world’s largest fixed income arbitrage hedge fund, blah blah, but he doesn’t get it. Some people work hard and there are just like deeper issues, you can’t even start to untangle them.

 

And that’s what the world is like, I’m sure. All these people trying to overcome these problems they’ll never understand, or even come close to fixing. And that’s what life for me will be. Starting after my reception luncheon.

 

I mean, what do people actually do all day? Is there a website to register for a job?

 

NEGATIVE

By Luca Marzorati

Oh no, this is far from over: graduation is a beginning. “Commencement,” they call it. On May 20th, we, the Class of 2015, will take our first steps on the twisted, dimly perceived road before us. I like to think of this road as “College: Part Two.”

 

Oh, sure. As a set of spacio-temporal coordinates, my college years are gone. You won’t see me eating alone in Ferris anymore or wandering through Butler with the texts of Wordsworth. But the spirit of an undergraduate education is something that takes time to bloom. Do you think a soul can be molded into an autonomous moral and political being in just four years? Ever heard of “grad school”?

 

So what if I’m not enrolling in courses! Sometimes you learn more by skipping class and listening to your body. How different will life honestly be? Everyone I know is: a) staying in the city, and b) unemployed. I’ve heard word floating around about a coalition of about 20 or so trying to rent out this warehouse loft in Long Island City. Which would be chill because every one of us majored in American Studies and Film.

 

I mean, we’ll see—plans are still up in the air. But it’s not like I won’t be living with everyone I know, talking about art, and drinking like a maniac.

 

Plus, when I graduate, I’ll finally have time to read again.  

 

Oh, there are people out there that tell will you they’re afraid—that we’re entering a different world, that college is over. These people are weaklings. They are afraid of education, unable to accept the burden it places on one to fight and strive to know. Education is the process of personal transformation and self-immolation—all college as an institution does is give some structure to that process. This is what I scream at these at people. These people who live in horror of their own freedom, who look out the window at their destiny and panic about whether to wear a coat or not.

 

“But you’ll have to work. You have to support yourself.” Work—so be it. But you don’t need self-sufficiency if you have the right kind of friction with the world. Friction I have. So I will get by and live, and, ultimately, address some of the deepest questions. Like, “Why am I me?”

 

“What about domesticity?” you might ask. “Don’t you want to have kids?”

 

I already have one, in fact. And once I’m out and about as a professional I can at least be a little more open about it.

 

Yes, wherever I go, whatever I do, it will always be college, and young Roar-ee will be proud that his father has chosen the life of reflection. A life that will never end, ever. If there’s one thing college has taught me—and by college, I don’t mean Lit Hum or Adjective Bodies: Semiotics & Gender in Post-Colonial Poetry, but a life of collegeis that you can have it all, you can be lothario and a behavioral scientist and a poet and a cis white male, and the father of a newborn and an anarcho-syndicalist and a frat star, you can waste every second with the people you love.