BUCKNELLâ€™S MAGAZINE FOR ARTS, CULTURE, & EVERYTHING ELSE
published the tenth of november in two thousand sixteeen
Lying face upward. Failing to act due to indolence, indifference, or moral weakness.
Everyone hates sequels. We wholeheartedly understand that. The story typically goes as follows: a riveting film, one that brings a fresh aesthetic and eloquent script together with the best new actors of the decade, is premiered. Theater frequenters love it, critics love it, and the one old lady living down the street from your parents loves it–she wanted to make sure you knew. The film is so overwhelmingly loved that the suits behind it decide to push forward and make a second edition. Why not continue the story heard–and loved– around the world? The hype surrounding the second film builds, and the buzz fills every corner of the media world. When it comes out, the piece on the screen is stagnant, overextended, and cheesy. Everything once novel is now overdone. It’s a complete dud. In fact, it’s so bad that it somehow tarnishes your perception of the first film. Alas, we’ve pushed forward with our sequel. Let’s keep with the world of cinema to frame this one. In one of the most iconic second dates in cinematic history, Joel, played by Jim Carey, and Clementine, by Kate Winslet, go on what Clementine describes as a “honeymoon on ice.” The scene emblematic of the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, sees the blue-haired,
rambunctious Clementine scoot across an iced-over lake and lie down. After a bit of prodding and convincing, an awkward but well-intentioned Joel follows suit. Flat on their backs on a slab of oscillating, neon blue ice, Joel and Clementine joke about the stars. Although ignorant of the tumultuous arc their relationship will follow in the weeks and months to come, the two appear entirely invested in making their unconventional affair work. This issue will focus on that one fleeting moment in Clementine and Joel’s lives in both literal and abstract ways via the theme– supine. Between 6:00 a.m. reverse commutes from New York City and late night Uber rides in San Francisco, we settled on the theme. The term supine is manifested in two distinct meanings, the first dealing with a position that allows for a unique perspective and the second addressing a failing to take action. In the case of Clementine and Joel, their novel view of the stars gave them a point of connection, something they otherwise could not find between their drastically different personalities and lifestyles. To get to this ethereal moment of connection, it took Joel overcoming whatever inhibitions he had and taking action. After the theme decision, both definitions of the word found a way of cropping up in the world around us. Whether through Snapchats sent over a lazy day of hammocking, Twitter arguments instigated pertaining to the upcoming presidential election, or the whimsical photo of a prospective Tinder match lying in a field of dandelions swiped right on; the idea of supine followed us throughout our summer. The creation of our sequel was not as streamlined as a major Hollywood sequel’s production process. While the first issue saw its origins in collaborative work in Copenhagen before we split off for our respective spring semesters in Lewisburg,
Pennsylvaniaand Yungaburra, Australia, this one was rooted in origins of distance. We switched home states for the summer and continued to deal with timezone differences between 9 to 5 jobs, solo trips to the theater to catch the 3:00 p.m. showing of the latest Sundance winner, and adjustments to unfamiliar weather patterns. And this didn’t stop with the start of school. Amidst reuniting with our staff to develop content for this issue, we came across the word supine in our first seemingly endless stack of weekend reading assignments for our Understanding Consumers course. As we delved, or rather, were thrown into, the semester, the days rushed past us, and with them escaped moments to pause and reflect. Between the rush of job applications, midterms, and, well, magazine deadlines, the cadence of the semester has been unforgiving. And unlike the stream of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on our shared Netflix account, there’s no controls to freeze the frame of our plotline pressing full steam ahead. But we did find a way to make it all a little more fun by removing ourselves from the rush. Walk around campus with your eyes closed for a short duration of a familiar commute at night. Lie down flat on your back in The Grove during a sunrise before all of the leaves fall. Start a campaign to support an issue you are passionate about. Do anything, really. We’ll leave you here and let you judge our sequel for yourself. We hope you find it is less than deplorable, and maybe even a step in the right direction.
HOW TO: LIKE A PRO! WORDS Madeline Diamond PHOTO Alec Rogers
ights can be dark in Lewisburg. Earlyon in their university careers, first-years are fed eerie folklore about the prison lights that light up the sky when looking out over the Susquehanna Valley from the quad.
to focus in on physics and astronomy. However, he understands the world’s fascination with the stars even outside of a scientific perspective. Ladd said astronomy provides an opportunity for people to connect with each other.
“One of the things that I really like about astronomy is that it does have this sort of union between science and the more romantic, or experiential components,” Ladd said. “For a lot of people, that makes astronomy more accessible.”
But if you deter your eyes from the virtually unavoidable fluorescent lights of the penitentiary and cast your gaze upwards, you’ll find a far more interesting light source–the stars. And if you happen to delve more into the world of astronomy, you’ll find that Lewisburg isn’t even all that dark in the context of stargazing.
Ladd not only teaches astronomy courses, but he and his department also offer various outreach programs to both the campus and local communities, including family nights and open houses at the observatory. The events are held several times a year and often include some sort of performance element, usually music, to emphasize the intersection between this particular discipline of science and the arts.
It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticized version of stargazing— countless songs and movies reference the myths and folklore associated with constellations. However, it is possible to enjoy both the cultural and scientific implications of astronomy.
Ned Ladd, a professor of physics at Bucknell University, didn’t necessarily begin his career in science purely because of a love of the stars. Rather, he always had an interest in the physical sciences and through his education, research, and internship experiences, he decided
In our approximate half hour interview, Ladd essentially gave me a crash course in stargazing and showed me where to go and what to look for.
According to Ladd, studying astronomy offers people a sense of “membership in the universe.” And if this sense of belonging is achievable, at least in some capacity, by simply taking the time to appreciate the night sky, then we could all stand to give stargazing a try.
PLACES to GAZE in Central Pennsylvania
The Observatory, Bucknell University
Dale’s Ridge Trail, Lewisburg, PA
Cherry Springs State Park, Coudersport, PA
While the campus is generally well lit, Ladd pointed out that the Observatory is conveniently darker because of its location and the fact that its staff can control the streetlights in the immediate surrounding area.
Dale’s Ridge is a hiking area along Buffalo Creek located just under five miles from the University’s campus. Ladd has led stargazing trips to this park in the past, and it’s a great local option for novice stargazers.
About two hours northwest of Lewisburg is Cherry Springs State Park, which is widely renowned as one of the state’s best places to stargaze. Cherry Springs is a trek, but thanks to a deal with landowners nearby to shield their lights at night, the park is about as dark as it gets.
WORDS Morgan Gisholt Minard PHOTO Megan Cannella
11 nd how’s Phillip? Walking? Talking?” I asked my dad, who was sitting across from me on the train from Zermatt to Geneva. Outside the frosted windows, dusk was falling on the snow-covered Alps as we whizzed by chalets and sheep hanging off the side of the mountain that the train was winding around–it was so picturesque it hurt.
dolls, boys play with Legos; girls are demure angels, and boys are reckless daredevils. It is the automatic assumption that the sex you are born with is the gender you will assume, and oh boy, will you assume it. I was never asked if I felt like a girl or whether I wanted to play with dolls rather than trucks– it just happened. It’s just how I, and presumably a large portion of my generation, learned how the world works.
I had been studying abroad for the last four months in Switzerland, and his visit marked the end of my time there. I hadn’t seen any family since boarding my flight from Boston in August, and I was eager to hear about my two-year-old cousin.
And it spills over into innumerable areas of life beyond childhood and adolescent development. It’s no secret that fewer women hold executive-level positions than men, and that they are, on average, compensated at a rate of 80 cents to every dollar that a man is paid.
“Oh, you know, he’s crazy energetic, always running around,” he offered with a beaming smile. “Just being a boy!” Those words irked me. “Being a boy” doesn’t have to mean being crazy and energetic–my dad should know that. He raised three girls, all of whom were both crazy and energetic. But he wouldn’t say “being a girl” and ascribe the same meaning to it as he did with “being a boy.” I remember narrowing my eyes at him before deciding to rock his world with a little bit of gender sensitivity, which just so happened to be the field I had been interning in for the last eight weeks of my time abroad. A moment’s reflection revealed that he didn’t actually know why he said that. And while I was inclined to feel at least a little bit guilty for challenging his old-fashioned views, it was a familiar feeling of powerless in the face of the deeply ingrained status quo and constructs that exist all over the world, but especially in the United States. Professor of women’s and gender studies Nikki Young contends that “social constructions of gender have social, economic, and political implications,” which is hard to arguewith. Gender constructs are pervasive and far-reaching. From a young age, gender binaries are prevalent in everything we do–girls wear pink, boys wear blue; girls play with Barbie
But to consider pay inequity as the primary issue with our conceptions of gender would be reductionist. Young explains that “in a context of capitalism a state of understanding equality through a capitalist framework then becomes a tool that reifies economics as the most important social justice issue–it is not.” Enter gender discrimination in sports. Did your parents ever take you to a basketball game? If so, I’d bet my next meal that it was an NBA game rather than a WNBA game. What about a baseball game? Sure. Who hasn’t? It is “America’s pastime,” after all. But why don’t we go to softball games? Are there even professional softball leagues? (Answer: yes, but infinitely smaller in size and popularity). Did you know that most professional softball players (of the few that exist) have to work a second job in addition to the meager $20,000 annual salary they might earn from playing ball? Might, as in, they won’t necessarily earn that amount– that’s pretty much the pay ceiling in the pro softball world. The popularity and visibility of women’s sports suffers as a result of the patriarchal structures of gender inequality, resulting in the economic side effects we see in the pay gap. Professional baseball players earn, on average, over four million dollars a year. And these disproportionate numbers are nothing new. This past May, five members
of the US National Women’s Soccer Team (USNWT) filed charges against the US Soccer Federation (USSF) for pay discrimination. The numbers revealed that, despite having won numerous international titles and costing the USSF only a third of what the men’s team does, the women were being compensated at a rate that was 25% less than what the men were being paid. To clarify, the argument that the men earned their right to be paid more than the women did does not hold water: since the first World Cup (featuring men exclusively) in 1930, the US men’s team has not won a single time. The women’s team, however, has won three out of the six total World Cups since the tournament was launched in 1991, in addition to many other impressive accolades. Maybe there is a legitimate reason for why men’s sports are so much more widely attended than women’s sports– perhaps the father in the typical nuclear family feels obligated to introduce his children to sports. He might be more interested in showing the kiddos the sport he played in middle school, high
school, college, or beyond. And that could be where the whole cycle of attending men’s sports begins, only it never ends. Because sports like professional softball and women’s basketball are less popular and therefore less visible, children grow up familiarized with the mainstream sports, which just so happen to be male-dominated. Ultimately, women’s sports take the hit at the expense of a pervasive culture of gender binaries and expectations. Young calls for “a more complicated view of this issue not only as it results in unequal pay but as a symptom of larger social allowances of inequality.” The pay gap is simply one material result of a system of patriarchy and sexism. And as for the charges filed by the USWNT? With the help of a group of U.S. senators, a bill was passed that demanded fair pay for all players in the USSF - one small step for woman, one giant leap for all womankind.
Direction A certain dependence on direction is ingrained in us from a young age. Weâ€™re taught to read, follow, and ask for directions in settings that range from the corporate office to mountain bush trails. Direction helps us make sense of the world around us, filter out the noise, and reach a checkpoint or finish line. Too much direction, though, can prevent us from exploring new paths and shortcuts. Too little, and we may sit idle, overwhelmed and underenthused by the wealth of options. We can look beyond written instructions, GPS systems, or career centers for the guidance that we crave; direction is embedded in the world around us. The little nodes and formulations that guide our direction in life can be found in film, fashion, food, etc.
Culture Guide: Food
FOR WHEN YOU’RE JUST TRYING TO GET LOST. Contrary to the airy, unrestricted complexion of nature, hikes are often riddled with prescribed paths and goals. Whether striving to reach the summit or make it back to the base, there is often a clear destination at the root of it all. Stripping hiking of these impinging norms, select explorers are able to capitalize on the allure of the path less traveled, perhaps relishing in the reward of a serendipitous overlook discovered entirely to their own intuition. So exchange your map for a bag of trail mix, it’s going to be a long day. WORDS SARA RUKEYSER PHOTO MEGAN CANNELLA
Ingredients: 1 cup raw almonds ¼ cup dried mango ¼ cup dried cranberries ¼ cup dried pineapple 1 cup raw walnuts 1 cup shelled Pistachios Directions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl or bag and enjoy!
Ingredients: 2 cups pumpkin seeds 1 cup shaved almonds ¾ cup sunflower seeds 6 tablespoons of the maple syrup of your choice 1 cup dried cranberries
Ingredients: ¾ cup hazelnuts ¾ cup roasted almonds ½ cup craisins ½ cup coffee beans (chocolate covered for extra sweetness) ½ cup white chocolate chips ½ cup dark chocolate chips Directions: In a large bowl or bag, combine all ingredients and enjoy!
Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 300° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin seeds, shaved almonds, sunflower seeds and maple syrup until distributed evenly. Spread evenly on the baking sheet. 3. Bake the nuts for approximately 20 minutes, moving them around several times, until they are golden. 4. Cool the nuts completely and then mix in the dried cranberries.
Across the world, trail mix is referred to by a range of different names: · G.O.R.P (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts) in the US · Scroggin in New Zealand & Australia · Studentų maistas (students’ food) in Lithuania · Bwyd Dewey (beloved food) in Wales · Studenterhavre (student oats) in Denmark · Tudengieine (student snack) in Estonia
Culture Guide: Playlist
WORDS Staci Dubow PHOTOS Erin Ditmar FACES Michael Rocco & Emma BX
Place is a particular position or point in space, but we can attribute so much more to that geographic plane for the experiences we gain there. From its minimal definition comedirection, action, and remembrance. And tied up in those positions lies who we are. The following artists so poignantly capture that essence of place through the directions they have taken and the locations that have inspired their growth.
“Hotel California” by The Eagles begins its story with its protagonist driving along a dark desert highway, with a strong wind and the smell of desert flowers. Using this vivid description of California, specifically the imagined “Hotel California,” it creates a perception of America’s collective vision versus its practiced reality. What at first seems a dreamy paradise soon turns into an eerie fright. Told from the perspective of an outsider, “Hotel California” is a tale of materialism and gluttony. One of the band’s members, Don Henley, says of the song, “We were all middle-class kids from the Midwest. Hotel California was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.” But he elaborates later, adding to its meaning as “a journey from innocence to experience.” The song’s significance then comes as much from the place itself as from the band’s interactions there.
Culture Guide: Playlist
Culture Guide: Fashion
SPRINTING THE RUNWAY
WORDS Joanna Harrold
orn in Thailand and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Thakoon Panichgul began his eponymous brand back in 2004 at age 29. What began as a whimsical, Asian-inspired line has evolved into a modern and feminine brand with a twist, embraced by a solid base of high-profile followers including Sienna Miller, Whitney Port, and Jessica Alba. After a yearlong hiatus, Thakoon returned to this fall’s New York Fashion Week with an entirely new vision for his brand–both on and off the runway. Rather than showing a collection for Spring/Summer 2017 and making consumers wait for months to don his designs, Thakoon showed a new collection for Fall 2016, available for purchase that same day both online and in his new, first-ever, brick and mortar store. This movement into the “see now, buy now” model is a first for Thakoon, but has been adopted in recent years by other brands such as Rebecca Minkoff and Burberry. In a world of instant gratification, it’s no surprise that consumers gawk at the idea of waiting six months for a new wardrobe. If brands want to stay relevant today with social media stars and their wallets, they need to move to a more consumer-focused business model. Doing so also inhibits fast fashion magnates like Zara and Forever 21 from producing and selling knockoffs before the real designs even hit the sales floor. Thakoon’s direct-to-consumer model also eliminates third party vendors and worry about how his clothes are presented in their retail environments. For him, “it’s more
refreshing to be able to just communicate [his] ideas down to the consumer.” How he communicates has changed as well. Within each collection, there are four to six releases, so the entire collection is not in the store at once. There is also a new collection every three months. If this seems quick, that’s because it is. His designs will be available for a month, and that’s it. Once they’re taken out of the store they’re gone—no sales racks, no resurgences months down the road at offbeat sample sales. To say Thakoon has redefined “fast fashion” would be an understatement. In his words, “Fashion moves at the speed of light, and I want to help you keep up with it.” This model’s viability is dependent on a young audience who has high engagement with the brand, not to mention deep enough pockets to afford full-price pieces. However, the exclusivity that comes with having what are essentially limited edition items is a definite draw for millennials looking for ways to stand out from the mass-marketed crowd. All of this doesn’t mean that Thakoon is disregarding everything we’ve ever known about the business of fashion, though. At its core, Thakoon is still very much a proponent of the physical fashion show. To him, the runway provides the context for his story. “It’s an experience,” he says. The artistry that comes with it cannot be replicated or replaced; it’s the soul of the brand on center stage for the world to see. Well, the world with enough Instagram followers to be invited.
Culture Guide: Film
WORDS Sawyer Owens ILLUSTRATION Morgan Robison here aren’t many directors that can capture the feeling of a decade the way Richard Linklater does. What makes Linklater stand out is his ability to define a specific era through his use of meticulously chosen music and strong, character-driven narratives. Although Linklater’s films are commonly rooted deep within the zeitgeist of an era, his stories also reflect issues that are pervasive throughout time. His films offer thought-provoking material that counters the recurring theme of the uneventful, American suburbia lifestyle. His content consistently addresses issues attached to coming of age, including the search for identity and the task of fitting into new environments. Linklater’s latest film “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a window into the first day of college in 1980. The film is a loose successor to his first movie success, “Dazed and Confused,” which follows rising college freshman on their last day of high school in 1976. Both films survey the time period from different perspectives by incorporating characters with vastly different personalities. The disparity between each group is ironically minimized, however, via their shared lack of a complete identity. Unsure of their lives’ direction, the kids mingle and mesh, searching for a niche that fits them comfortably. “Everybody Wants Some!!” centers on the
members of a college baseball team as they adjust to the new fall semester, pursuing the women on campus and navigating the disorderly world of alcohol. The first night out, the team goes to Sound Machine, a disco club reminiscent of a bowling alley, and presumably the only club in their college town. Jake, the protagonist of the film and a freshman on the team, is depicted with an aura of a high school jock and the inquisitive qualities of a philosopher. At Sound Machine, he finds his place among his teammates on the dance floor. He meshes well with the new team, successfully integrating into the different cultures they encounter on their first few nights of the semester. The following three nights consist of escapades through a country bar, a punk concert, and a theater party; each event provides the group with a characteristic experience within each niche. Perhaps the most inspiring conversation of the film happens between Jake and his hippie teammate, Willoughby, over a game of pool at the country bar. Within the diegesis of the film, baseball pitchers are painted as unique individuals, sometimes thought to stand out in negative ways. Jake and Willoughby, both pitchers, discuss the differences between them and the rest of the team. Over the bustle of drunken cowboys and country music, Willoughby tells Jake that when you accept your inner strangeness, “you bring who you are, never
who they want.” However cliché the advice seems, the counseling makes an impression on Jake, who throughout the film grapples with the speed of changing atmospheres during his first few nights of college. Coming to college, Jake loses an aspect of his character when he makes the transition from star high school pitcher to realizing that his baseball skill isn’t enough to define him anymore. By the film’s end, Jake embraces the flexibility of his new lifestyle and accepts the scenarios that bring him out of his sports team bubble. Jake’s circumstance as a fumbling college freshman reflects the dilemma many students undergo during their introductory days at university. Even within the context of the 80’s, Jake’s quest to understand his new lifestyle ascends the film’s focus on the time period and connects with modern viewers who relate to his situation. The film suggests that, while one’s job or place on a sports team can form a portion of one’s identity, it does not necessarily encompass it. The freedom to characterize yourself without confinements from stereotypes or expectations is a strong liberty to posses and is cleverly promoted throughout the plot. The last scene of the film solidifies this message when Jake’s first college class is introduced by a scribbled quote on the classroom’s black board: Jake’s history professor introduces himself through a scribbled quote on the classroom’s blackboard: “Frontiers are where you find them”.
INCIPIENT NUDGE PHOTOS Mariele Saunders-Shultz WORDS Kelsey Oâ€™Donnell
Across different locales, particular features remain constant. No matter where we may travel, we can encounter different fibers of the same problems: ideological clashes between economically driven and environmentally conscious mindsets, struggles to harmonize discordant generational perspectives, and shortcomings in educational opportunities. All of these occur before a backdrop of different settings that flavor these issues with the cultural seasoning of a region. The Rio La Leche watershed in Peru is no different. Nestled at the base of the Andes Mountain range, the regionâ€™s position as a transitional zone between tropical forest and desert begets a unique dry forest climate. The area is a biodiversity hotspot,
home to many endemic species. And like many other ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity, Rio La Lecheâ€™s wellbeing is threatened by human activity. To pursue environmental progress, one must first take into account the particularisms of the region and the surrounding community. For Rio La Leche, this reshaping begins with educating young children, demonstrating how to live and think in a manner that moves the environment to the forefront from its traditional position as an afterthought. Functioning from within communities, children can effectively nudge the older generation to follow their lead and shift environmental attitudes from indifference to diligence.
WORDS Emily Malmquist & Staci Dubow PHOTOS Morgan Robison
“We sat down with a map and got an old school compass, and drew a three hour circle and [my parents] told me to pick any college that fit within it. Bucknell was just at the edge.” Arriving to Bucknell’s campus on Admitted Students Day was just the impetus she needed to embrace the edge of that limit. “As always, they paid the weather gods, and the flowers were blooming and people looked so happy. I was like, forget where else I was going to go, this is where I have to be.” Once on campus, Erica joined the Comparative Humanities residential college. Living downhill in Larrison, she formed close relationships with several residents on her first year hall that lasted throughout her four years. She became heavily involved with BSG and the equivalent of today’s Activities and Campus Events (ACE). Our campus is richer because of the changes and traditions she helped to implement during her time as a student, such as Chrysalis Ball, Midnight Madness, and perhaps most importantly, extended library hours. Erica recalls her own days in Bertrand, during which she would frequent the couches of Lower Level 2. “I just remember, especially during my first year, I was tired all of the time. I would go there to read, and I would inevitably fall asleep and drool.”
Originally intending to study Physics and English, her career goal was to become a technical writer. Instead, a cap on the only section of Physics 211 led her down a new path. Four years later, she found herself graduating with a double major in English and History, off to pursue a graduate program at Washington University in St. Louis. Erica was intrigued by how History and English always seemed to be linked with constructions of gender and other identities. “I think that we live our lives through the texts that we consume,” she says. Even through fiction, we can learn much about the assumptions and attitudes of a period. The texts that surround us, especially now, through digital means, reveal important trends of the past and have the capability to reorient our understanding of the present. “It was definitely in graduate school when I realized that everything that I wanted to write about, or kept being drawn back to, was something about gender.” As an undergraduate student, she had
not thoroughly explored the pervasive constructions of identity that now came to the fore of her educational interests. “Every time I read a book, every time I read a novel, every time I looked at a history or cultural phenomenon of some sort, I was paying attention to gender. So that was crystallized and I thought, oh yeah, this is how I want to study.” Erica’s passion for this discipline is maintained by a contagious intensity that, as she muses, is acquired. “This is not something you’re born with, this feminist sort of consciousness. It’s definitely something you need to cultivate over time.” Once Erica completed most of her graduate degree, Bucknell offered her a position as an adjunct professor. Returning to her alma mater as a faculty member was the ideal next step. “I wanted to finish my degree and be somewhere familiar.” Since then, she has continued to grace the Bucknell community with her inspiring intellect. Now, as a professor in both
literature and women’s and gender studies, she teaches courses such as The History of Sexuality, Women Writers, and The Literature of Downton Abbey. And each of these electrifies her equally. Her courses attract a wide variety of students. Any given class is typically comprised of individuals hailing from a diverse set of backgrounds that, in turn, yield a diverse set of opinions and ideologies. In regards to one class, The History of Sexuality, Erica notes, “When it comes to the conversations, I can direct us and guide us in certain ways and ask certain questions, but it really is a process of us moving through the text, idea, or concept together... in general, what I like about teaching women’s and gender studies is that it is always a mix of different types of students, and very often students are encountering ideas for the first time. Not that they’re new, per say, but that these are things to think about. It’s really fun where I get to be in the position to denaturalize these concepts that are so integral to our lives.”
Now, several years since her return to Bucknell, Erica’s time here as a professor has exceeded her time here as student–almost twofold. Professor Delsandro has noticed diversity beyond just her classroom on today’s campus. In comparison to campus when she was an undergraduate, “Diversity is much more visible and present. We still have a long way to go, but I don’t think that is necessarily indicative of just Bucknell.” Just as in Erica’s classroom, diversity on campus is vital to growth. “It’s useful to talk to people...people that are similar to you and people across difference. You can build affinity that way... We can always gain something from hearing more perspectives.” When we talk about the makeup of Bucknell’s student body, Erica notes the necessity in addressing privilege. But she makes clear that recognition is just the first step, and that it should empower students to take action and help either serve others or pull apart the systems that have privileged them for long. Otherwise, she explains, the recognition becomes “no different than the privilege itself.” The Bucknell community has indeed taken steps towards creating a more inclusive culture. Large-scale events like the Solidarity March and student-led forums are very effective, Erica notes, particularly if student participation extends across a wide variety of social groups. But to create structural change on a daily level, “It all comes down to recognizing that the people you are in class with are unique human beings like yourself, and to interact with empathy and respect. Sometimes just saying hello or asking how someone is can make the difference.” With her experience as both a student and professor at Bucknell, Erica is familiar with the University’s growth and the necessary work lying ahead. Creating a better university does not mean meeting a quota, but rather dismantling systems of oppression–no simple task. For Erica, it’s about changing the rhetoric from “what can I do for someone else” to “what can I do for us?”
n To ona TION B A om S T USTR D L R WO TO IL O PH
O sey l e &K
e tell ourselves stories in order to live.” This is how Joan Didion opens her seminal essay “The White Album”—a broad survey and homage to the radical and transformative narratives efflorescing throughout the country in the 1960’s. In that decade, the prevailing ethos was that the dominant narratives of the past no longer rang true; that previous forms of thought were exhausted in their capacity to organize or to provide meaningful explanations of experience. Dissatisfaction— on many sides—with these old traditions produced broad-based cultural revolt. The nation bore witness to the birth of new narratives, reformed institutions, and revised cultural legacies that we are confronted with every day. It is no surprise, then, that when we look around our own political landscape, we see such stark connections between our
own time and that tumultuous decade. Hillary Clinton is well known to have been politically active on Wellesley’s campus; photos have surfaced online of a characteristically disheveled Bernie Sanders being arrested at a protest in 1963; protests over racial violence today eerily evoke images from the darkest days of the civil rights movement. However, liberals and progressives did not solely win the successes of the decade as it is often characterized in popular imagination. The same period saw the resurgence of Richard Nixon and the birth of mainstream conservatism, and it provided endless fodder on the perils of youth, drugs, activism, and education. At the heart of the discussion, on either side, was the continuing need to process information in the form of a story—necessitated by the desire for reinvention. In other words, people have been searching for some way to keep on living.
II. Modern conservatism can be traced back to almost a single moment in 1966. In the first month of the year, Richard Nixon hired Pat Buchanan, a conservative writer living in St. Louis, as his principal campaign advisor. Thus began one of the most storied political comebacks in history: having lost the presidency to John F. Kennedy in 1960 and running a disastrous bid for Governor of California in 1962, Nixon won the presidential election of 1968 in a landslide victory, campaigning on the strength of Americans who were dismayed at the pervasive crime of innercities, the chaos of the war in Vietnam, the reckless sensibilities of the youth, and the adoption of broad civil rights legislation. Capitalizing on tumult within the Democratic Party, he laid out a very subtle and compelling understanding of contemporary America—namely that the country was actually a combination of two separate societies: one silent, law-abiding, religious, patriotic, and comprised of the many; the other disorderly, secular, elitist, amoral, and comprised of a small number of dissatisfied radicals. The success of this political narrative has come to dominate American politics in every election since. It is the creation myth of the modern conservative. Conversely, it is the epitaph for 20th century American liberalism. It set on a movement that Nixon capitalized, Reagan popularized, Gingrich radicalized, and George Bush unequivocally shattered. Smoldering for years, it has now burst in to flames. Though not under the dominion of a single person, many gravitate to its proverbial siren. As it was in the election of 1968, the dominant trend of our current election cycle is a similar appeal to strictly defined narratives. There is the narrative of decline, the loss of American “values” and economic power to some amorphous “other”. There is the narrative of incremental progress on civil rights, environmental protection, and economic growth and the need to elect a leader that will carry on our current president’s
legacy. Both have proponents and detractors, but never before has it seemed that casting a vote for one side or another is a pledge of allegiance to their world picture. The Trump campaign seemingly has nothing propelling it other than fear, hatred, and vitriol, while the Clinton campaign is the sole voice of reason, leaving it unimaginative, unambitious, and complacent. Besides some exhausted bloggers urging support for the fanciful candidates of our third parties, one is left in a vacuous binary: there are only two paths moving forward, and neither one is great nor makes much sense. The trouble is, you aren’t voting for a candidate, you are subscribing to their story. III.
The emergence of Donald Trump presents a sharply delineated change of the decadeslong story of American conservatism. His views are extreme, pugilistic, and consistently at odds with the GOP establishment. Having never held office and only becoming a Republican in 2012, after switching allegiances to multiple parties at least five times, he is seen both as an outsider and a threat. Yet the historical success of the GOP has been reliant on its insurgent status. Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush, along with countless others, found success by portraying themselves as underdogs, fighting against a system that is hell-bound on crushing them. Each man finds himself riding the coattails of the former, as the extreme becomes subsumed into the Party and goes mainstream. In this sense Trump is a clear winner, a natural progression of a party that prides itself on a kind of militant ascendancy and tenacity that resembles the Red Queen: running faster and louder just to retain its current standing. Trump has taken the entrenched insurgency to a frightening new degree. Implicit in his appeal for American Greatness is an appeal for safety, an appeal based on the notion that the country once had been safe and should return to that state. Trump’s campaign draws a line not against a singular enemy but protean enemies— abstract specters that can only be dispelled through certain acts
34 of personal affirmation of the candidate himself. The fate of the country rests only upon certain magical gestures: the building of a wall, the renegotiation of “deals”, and the restoration of the presidency under the control of whites. The selection of a president, therefore, is the selection of a hero—an individual that is not necessarily about ideas, but is a manifestation of a prevailing national ethos. And, as seen in the election of President Obama, this phenomenon is true of both sides and seems to be the fundamental political fact of our age. At the core of the Trump movement is this refined narrative with its clearly defined protagonist. The use of this story necessitates painting with broad strokes, overlooking the many falsities and simplifications in order to create a strong, dramatic form. It has elements of the familiar: the storied rise of the central character, the campaign as a personal odyssey, as well as some that are unique to our era: the politician-as- businessman, the outsider, the anti-establishment character. Its lifeblood is the interest of the public; captivation is its predominant goal. Because of this, Trump is uniquely positioned to function in our current political environment. He is a creature of our age: frenetic, mercurial, and salesdriven. He has latched onto something bigger than himself and that he has begun to make his own. IV.
This evolution of the modern campaign narrative has more to do with how campaigns are formed and how they are covered rather than what they represent. As important as the stories themselves are the people who are doing the telling. Behind the electoral machine is a managerial elite that is deeply involved in the political process. Connected to their electorate in name only, this elite is obligated primarily to the candidate or the electoral process itself and are greatly removed from the concerns of voters or to the widespread consequences of an election, outside of their own interests.
35 Elections are less concerned with democratic processes—giving the citizens a voice in the actions of the state—than with serving the needs of those that depend on its present state of existence. They are mechanisms so complex and specialized that involvement is increasingly linked to experts and professionals that speak the language: those that report on them, that operate and make use of polls, consultants, pundits, op-ed contributors, advisors and aides, and those that can host and afford off-the-record dinners and luncheons. The whole process is increasingly insular—the assumption being that control or understanding of the “process” should be in the hands of specialists that get the game being played. This belief has led to a presence of contempt toward those seen as outsiders. From their perspective, it doesn’t matter that things tend to be illogical, deceptive, and/or redundant because everything has been focus-grouped. These insidious elements of this campaign season seem to be even more prevalent than usual because both candidates are overwhelmingly untrusted. A confounding trend with both of their campaigns is how they seem barely related to the lives of the citizens they attempt to represent. The conventions this year—on the themes of love and fear—are great examples of this phenomenon. One convention portrayed
our nation as sad, pathetic, and dark, on a precipice, awaiting greater damage. The other centered on love, eternal optimism, and unbounded progress. Each took the form of a ceremonial convergence of professionals who hold themselves in parochial self-regard. Indifference to these events or the apocryphal language of either cast of characters is seen as voter “apathy” or “ignorance” rather than the recognition that both sides are fundamentally unpleasant and avoiding greater national issues.
The use and dissemination of such abstract narratives on both sides has the greater effect of divorcing any sense of value gained from experience in the past or the present. As Joan Didion explained in her 1991 essay “Sentimental Journeys”, “The imposition of a sentimental, or false, narrative on the disparate and often random experience that constitutes the life of a city or a country means, necessarily, that much of what happens in that city or country will be rendered merely illustrative, a series of set pieces, or performance opportunities.” Both sides have been faithful observers of this as each mass shooting illustrates the need to regulate guns or of the threat to our freedom by doing so, as the Orlando attack becomes a set-piece on home grown terrorism and the failure of the current administration, as each police shooting becomes a performance opportunity to stage a protest against the desecration of “Black Lives” or, recently, a change to celebrate “Blue Lives”.
Necessary to this process is the false narrative–some ostensibly accurate, external method to process what is being said. The destructive power of this interpretational method and the use of political information lie in what the narrative fails to disclose. The enthusiasm of its adoption is not because it tells us who we are, but because it fails to do so. The stories all have the same basic elements: triumph, resolve, and loyalty to the group. Trump is not saying what people are thinking, but what they want to hear. V.
The failure of both the media and each platform to frame debates and hold candidates accountable for what they do and say has left discourse in a perpetual catatonic state. The actual words that Trump speaks— “Obama was the founder of ISIS,” for instance—are incorrect. However, the prevailing message of his language is clear, direct, and inflammatory.
Donald Trump’s presence this close to the presidency is evidence of a dangerous social pathology in our country. The decline in political discourse combined with the pervasive influence of mass media meet a country with seemingly intractable social and economic issues compounding without sufficient attention. When times are good, we are the nation that proved Marx wrong: there is free flowing money, increased consumption, and the acquiescence of the proletariat, vis-à-vis the middle class. For most, however, times have not been good for a while. When the economic structure begins to rupture, our social structure quickly follows suit. In this social degradation, the talk-radio voices, televangelists, and Sunday morning talk shows secure their home.
As Nathan Heller wrote in a piece for the New Yorker regarding the collapse of our common language, “To know what Trump means, despite the words that he is saying, you have to understand—or think you understand—the message before he opens his mouth.” Language is no longer meant to carry information or form arguments. Instead, it revels in its newfound ability to disclose meaning. Any argument becomes unassailable because you are not attacking the reasoning behind it, but the political fantasy that the language shrouds.
Donald Trump—by espousing extreme views compared to recent Republican nominees—has struck a chord that moderate party operatives failed to see. He is aggressive, loud, and cannot be defeated by scandals or outright lying. He appeals to people that have been forgotten and that have no regard for how the political process works or the implications if it does not function properly. He has defied previously mainstream political expectations by making it this far and retaining the support. It seems as though we all somehow forgot to inform his supporters of the rules of this game we have all been playing. When one person breaks the rules, it makes sense to blame the individual. When 40% of voters break the rules, you have to reconsider the game being played.
The reality is not that this campaign and its supporters have failed to understand the rules. Rather, it seems that they have recognized what we have failed to see: that the rules—in the wake of the breakdown of 20th-century economic and social structure— no longer make any sense. What we have right now is a sizeable population in our country that has been evicted from the system and barred out for quite some time. To their understanding, once you’ve been thrown outside you can’t be let back in. They are intractable, written off as “racists”, “bigots”, “misogynists”, or a “basket of deplorables.” What is broadly mischaracterized as individual moral ineptitude is actually symptomatic of the general system. Dissatisfied, alienated, and ill at ease in their own country, the people are becoming subsumed into the modern conservative movement in the same manner that Nixon wooed them in 1968. It is no coincidence that our current age has seen his narrative distilled down to its base elements: white identity politics, religious fundamentalism, disdain towards elites, and anxiety over perceived lawlessness and crime. Many flock to the Trump narrative because it avoids the harsh realities of recent American history and the implicit understanding that things will not be improving in the near future. His success is stimulating those who are beginning to suffer loss and decline, as well as those that have seen it for a generation or longer. As certain areas of the country weather decades of industrial decline while many others continue to flourish, there is a fundamental disconnect between the way that politicians and political operatives speak about this country and the common person’s daily experience. Coming from a relatively prosperous town myself, then attending school in central Pennsylvania, Trump’s vision on the United States does not seem implausible at all. To walk around and live your entire life in rural isolation, to be overtaken by this feeling of powerlessness surrounded by chains and corporate behemoths that are symbols of distant profit, one becomes hard-pressed to buy into contemporary liberal optimism or fantasies of some decentralized libertarian
state. These people want nothing more than to be seen, heard, and understood—to have someone speak to and for them for once. The fantasies of the campaign are the product of years of disruptive moralizing, chaotic feuding, and strategic gesturing. They are the result of a political tool that was too successful for its own good, an ideology built around a dubious conceptual understanding of what this country purports to be. They have taken hold in a group that feels it has been misrepresented, ridiculed, and ignored, and this group has only grown in size as a result of continued abuse. From this vantage point, the central issue in this election is a question as old as the Republic itself: who are the People and who best represents them. To an appreciable number of voters, this man is Donald Trump. VI.
The results of the election will be public before this magazine is in print, but this article is not a polemic against one side or another. The state of our political landscape has irrevocably changed with the acceptance of Donald Trump and others like him, and will only face greater transformation if he is elected. It is not all that different from recent elections, though the absurdity of the characters and the divergence from major players suggest that this landscape will continue to disintegrate before it improves. Trump serves as the focal point and creator of a cult of extremists that the Republican Party will find hard to dispel in the future. Intriguingly, this election has been dominated by appeals to history and parallels between the past and our own time, my piece included. One of the more interesting draws parallels between the bombastic nature of Trump and the tides propelling 20th century Fascism. Though it simplifies historical circumstances and grossly overestimates Trump’s political sophistication, it does raise some compelling questions about the state of American democracy. Hannah Arendt, in her compelling overview The Origins of Totalitarianism had this to say about the
36 transition between decadent Republican states and full-blown totalitarian ones: A mixture of gullibility and cynicism had been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world, the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true...Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism.
This election has exposed this very inclination right at home: a complete willingness, or even desire, to believe everything, but an inability to believe in anything of substance. Trump did not engineer these circumstances, but he is capitalizing on them. An entire segment of our population now allows him to speak in their stead, and while he may not be around come 2020, they will remain. Our present disposition for cynicism and gullibility produces a unique problem in the history of this country—one that we must rectify, or else it will dominate us. We find ourselves not existing outside of history, but lacking a convincing historical analog. Regardless, the most important lesson that history has afforded us is that republics do not commit suicide; they are murdered. They suffer from fragility and finally succumb to willful manipulation after years of decay. Be it media operatives or politicians themselves, those involved in this election seem to be little more than opportunists, working the system as though it were not something that had legitimate consequences. So it becomes crucial that we address the ways in which we tell our stories and the ways in which they allow us to imagine ourselves. It might be this very propensity for storytelling that is propelling our path of destruction, but all that this means is that underlying it must be an intense desire to live.
WORDS Sarah Decker PHOTOS Morgan Klein The bus from the Queen Alia airport was lined with thick velvet curtains and stained with the smell of old cigarettes. All twenty-five of us stared in 3 am silence while our program director rambled on about the rules in fluent Arabic: we would each be assigned to a host family in the small, predominately Christian, city of Madaba, we would be given a flip phone to use for emergencies, we would bring a brown-bag lunch to school every day, and we would not use any English for the next three months. As she began to call out the roommate pairs, the bus filled with a thick smoke that smelled like rubber and gasoline. I waited for someone to panic, but the bus driver laughed, mumbled a few Inshahallah’s, and pulled over. The bus’s engine had caught fire, but the driver warmly held each of our hands as we exited the bus, giving us directions to the nearest hotel. He called his younger brother to help us carry our luggage, and his elated “Welcome to Jordan!” rose over the sound of the bus’s malfunctioning motor.
The caretaker at the Duke’s Diwan -- Amman’s oldest residential home which is, today, permanently open to creators and the curious -- smokes an afternoon cigarette.
We proceeded to drag our suitcases through empty Madaba streets, trying to make out the Arabic script that covered every street sign and shop window. It was my first time in a foreign country, but I felt a strange rush of belonging. Passerby’s echoed the driver’s “Welcome to Jordan!” That same expression would follow us until our departure in August, in the aisles of supermarkets, in line for Mister Shawarma, and in every bus and taxi in between. This first impression granted by the bus driver strongly resonates with the cultural values of Jordanians. When faced with danger, fear, or crisis, Jordanians respond with warmth and compassion instead
of panic or aggression. Throughout my time, strangers consistently treated me as if I were a family member instead of a white, English-speaking foreigner. In my experiences, I observed a Jordanian culture heavily centered on generosity, empathy, and the importance of personal connection. These attributes became characteristic of my everyday experiences in Madaba. During my time in Jordan, the country was—and still is—experiencing a severe water shortage, which is only stressed further by the refugee crisis. We were initially told by our program director that we would only be able to shower once a week, but there was not a single
day that I felt impacted by the water shortage. I learned that this was a result of my host mother’s extreme generosity. Every afternoon that we returned home, sweating from the two-mile walk in extreme heat, she pushed us into the shower and ordered us to rinse off and rehydrate. Despite our host family experiencing the same water limitations as the rest of the country, it was important to our host mother that we were able to bathe and drink clean water daily. This generosity and warmth starkly contrasts the common narrative painted of life in the Middle East. While I was by no means raised in a prejudiced household, the Middle East was only ever discussed to the extent that it was a “dangerous place that produced great evil.” In fact, my family was terrified upon the realization that I would spend my summer there, and every weekly phone call was filled with anxious questions about terrorist-ridden airports and the Syrian border. There was an enormous disparity between what my family thought I was experiencing and what my actual day-to-day life was like. My host mother was a seventy-five-year-old woman, whom we called Mama Nailah. She had short salt-and-pepper curls, and we never saw her wearing anything besides her floral nightdress and a pair of pink-lace house slippers. She cooked for us every night, everything from Mansaf to Tabbouleh, and would laugh for hours at our butchered pronunciations. On weekends, we watched Arab Idol together. She always sat between us, holding each of our hands in one of her own, whispering yaa binati…my daughters. These images stand unrecognizable against the media’s depiction, riddled with
car bombs and burning American flags, of this region and its people. The most surprising aspect of my time in Jordan was not the adjustment to using my Arabic fluently or the architectural wonders of Petra. It was the disdainful reactions I received from American friends and family about my pursuits in the Middle East. “Who is going to be teaching you? ISIS? Won’t you get blown up? Do you have to wear a burqa?” Our visions of the Arab world are so often limited, only extending from Aladdin’s magic carpet to the bold typeface of headlines in The New York Times. The people I met in Jordan often expressed a contrast between loving Americans and American culture and feeling a kind of harrowing sadness towards our government’s blatant indifference towards the lived realities of Arab people. We would spend hours on our host family’s balcony, overlooking the city’s Palestinian refugee camp, talking about everything from the neighbor’s wedding to Donald Trump. Yet, every night, my host mother would ask my roommate and I the same question, “Why don’t the Americans care?” There are 1.4 million Syrian refugees and over 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan. Our host mother constantly described the refugee crisis as an inseparable part of every day life for all Jordanians, yet American media chooses to highlight the problems this crisis poses for Western nations exclusively. Our policy decisions are often based on one perspective of what democracy looks like, and this is what makes it into our mainstream media. We came face to face with the consequences of this perception upon return, when we crossed the border between the Arab and Western worlds. Going through security in the Frankfurt airport, my turbanwearing Sudanese roommate was strip searched in a back room. I walked through without even being asked to remove the hood of my sweatshirt. Her prayer rug was confiscated, and she almost missed our connecting flight back to Washington D.C. My roommate stressed how difficult it is being a Muslim woman in the Western world and how, in her lifetime, it
has only gotten more difficult. In Jordan, the hijab is so normalized that it is simply seen as a personal choice and not as a symbol of oppression or radicalization. She had forgotten that, in most countries, religious wear could be interpreted as threatening and un-American. In Jordan, I did not simply learn to speak intermediate Arabic—I learned how to listen. It is clear that there is an enormous amount of misinformation surrounding the Middle East; the political, social, and economic crises that plague the region are a series of seemingly unanswerable questions. Yet, we so often fail to act due to indifference and a form of misunderstanding that directly results from our one-directional perspective. The most important thing I gained abroad had very little to do with Arabic proficiency and everything to do with the necessity of being attentive to the voices of the other side. Social action can be unlocked by empathizing with the lived realities of Arab people. In order to understand Arab culture, its people, and its conflicts, we need break out of our limited ways of thinking, sit up, and turn around.
WORDS & PHOTOS Sean Gilchrist
A GLOBAL PURSUI T WORDS AVID KHORRAMIAN PHOTOS SONI MADNANI
“You never cry in front of them. You never show them that you are weak. You want to cry, you go outside. You cry; you come back in. They should never know that you cried. And if you don’t want to be here, you won’t be here.” A 17-year-old Nir Aish listens attentively, embarrassed and flustered, as her higherup and mentor, Avital, addresses her following her first presentation to a set of high ranked officials. As a new addition to the Israeli Defense Force, or the IDF, Aish was just beginning her time in their Intelligence Unit. After putting in days preparing for this presentation, she was unable to address the officials’ questions to their satisfaction. This failure to meet expectations was met with the tears that provoked Avital’s disciplinary advice. “She put me in a position where you are responsible for what you do,” Aish recounts of her previous mentor and now very close friend. “Do not show your weaknesses. And you should be strong enough to say ‘I can’t do this,’ and walk away if that’s the case… And obviously I stayed. I think that was a big moment.” Just three years later, I sit cross-legged across from Aish, a now sophomore Israeli international student, on the floor of the Berelson Center For Jewish Life. Teafilled mugs in hand, I listen as she recounts her stint as a soldier in Israel, her college application process, her time gallivanting through Latin America, her first year or so at Bucknell, and her ambitions looking forward.
51 COMBAT TRAINING
& MILITARY INTELLIGENCE
As a junior in high school, Aish began the process of applying to various units within the IDF. In her home country of Israel, joining the army is a required responsibility for all citizens. “There’s not much about being happy about it or sad about it,” she says. “It’s just something that you do... You want to serve your country.” The vetting process begins with a general exam that does an initial filter of prospective new members. Depending on how an individual does in the first round, they may qualify for additional rounds of testing for different units of the army that appear to be a good fit. From there, prospects will partake in final round interviews before being placed in the unit that they will serve in. Aish’s road to the Intelligence Unit began with this general exam, led to a series of more specific assessments, and culminated in her placement on the prestigious team. The initial, physicallygeared training was in a desert setting that afforded the trainees picturesque sunrises and sunsets over rolling hills of sand and a remote base that brought Aish and her fellow trainees together. During their time in the desert, they lived in housing arrangements that she likened to the University’s Mods and were held to standards that allowed her to develop her rigor. “In the army I discovered my power, my strength,” Aish explains. “I really learned to believe in myself.” During this period of training, she did everything from securing various borders to receiving more specialized training geared towards the Intelligence Unit. It took just one follow-up question about her friends during her time of service for Aish to launch into a series of stories and descriptions riddled with so many names th I could hardly keep up. She pulled up photos to accompany each anecdote, mirroring a quintessential scene from my own memory of my mother showing me faded photos of
her life back in Iran—her eyes brimming with nostalgia and excitement. Following the six-month training, she joined her unit full-time and served the remainder of her two years. Aish grappled with the dichotomy of the military world and the regular world, trying to switch seamlessly from discussing militaristic strategy to the trivial concerns of every teenage girl such as the routine flakiness of a friend’s crush. “I feel like when you’re not a soldier, in citizen life we call it, there’s always an option,” Aish explains. “Even if life is shitty, there’s always an option. I guess with the army, there is an option as well. If you’re not doing well mentally or physically, you can always lift your hand and say I can’t do this,” she explains, touching again on Avital’s words following her iffy presentation. “But that’s not how I was raised. I was raised to suck it up, even if it’s hard.” Aish takes a second to collect her thoughts. “I later learned that, in the outside world, it’s actually important to show emotions.” Aish culminated her time with the IDF by earning an award of excellence during the army’s ceremony held annually on the anniversary of the country. Duirng that year’s ceremony, 66 awards were handed out across the entire military to celebrate the country’s 66 years of existence. Although her time in the army taught her to control her emotions, Aish’s mindset has developed further since. “My time in the army taught me to be a strong woman, and I now understand that showing emotions is not a sign of weakness,” she says.
& COLLEGE APPS
“I grew up in Tel Aviv until age five,” Aish recalls. “I then moved to Boston and lived there until age nine, when I moved back to Israel. I had a hard time because I was very adapted to the American culture, even though I was here only for four years.” “It was a very fragile time for a kid. For the
Feature first three years, I kept having this thought in the back of my mind that I was going to go back to the States at some point. I always believed that after I graduated from high school I would go into the army to do my service and then head back to America for college.” And she did exactly that. Like every teenager, SAT prep came at a rough time for Aish. While still completing her time in the military, she began studying for the SAT and even completed her first attempt at the exam while still serving as a soldier. After achieving a score she was happy with, she began searching for schools that offered her what she was looking for. “I literally Googled counseling for applications, and I found someone that had come to Israel when she was 17, was a member of the army for two years, and then moved to the States,” Aish explains. “Sometimes we make things so complicated in our heads that we avoid approaching them; a simple Google search changed everything for me.” Aish recalls the intricacies of college applications for international students and the steps she went through to complete each. “Friends and family kept questioning and disencouraging my dream but they couldn’t tell me anything,” she says. “I was fearless. I paid for everything with the money I got from the army and some savings that I had. My counselor gave me a list of schools since I had no idea what I wanted to study or where. I eventually came to visit the schools I got into, with a scholarship.”
& INTERNET CAFES
In the two months that Aish applied to colleges, her parents flew to Nepal to climb Mount Everest. “I was home alone in the middle of the city doing SATs and applying, but I was happy for them,” she says. “Eventually, they got back, I finished my applications and sent it all out.”
Just one week after she sent in her last application, Aish followed her parents’ example of wanderlust and booked a one way ticket to Central America. “I had to fly,” she recalls. “I felt like I couldn’t waitress anymore. I needed to get out and see different places. So I flew.” There, she joined two friends for nearly two months of travel, going through cycles of traveling together and splitting up. During that period, Aish successfully made her way through Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. “I had traveled a lot with my family and some friends,” she says. “But this was my first time really traveling alone.” While she was in Mexico, Aish heard back from Bucknell. “I got an email from Bucknell saying I qualified to be a Presidential Fellow,” she recalls. “So, now what? What does this mean? It means I need to write an essay.” When she packed her bags, Aish assumed she was done with applications, she didn’t even bother packing a laptop. “It’s funny because I flew knowing that everything was behind me, and I wrote the one thing that actually got me here, to Bucknell, in the middle of Guatemala,” she recalls. “I was trying to figure out this essay that could be life changing. And amusingly, it was life changing, because I ended up here.” So she reverted to a small internet cafe in Antigua, Guatemala. “They were open only at night, so it was just me and a bunch of locals sitting on the internet.” Every night for a week, Aish would go to the cafe and write. “Chocolate helps me when I write, and they had this fridge that had only Coke and Twix,” she recounts. “So every night, I would buy me and the person working there, who looked like he was falling
52 asleep, Twix bars. By the fourth time I came in, he was excited to see me.” The two month travel stint left Aish with a wealth of stories to share. As she rattled them off, she recalled her last trip before heading home when she decided to overlook a virus she had and go on a 10day yoga retreat to an electricity-free place called The Yoga Forest. “You wake up with a gong, and you can barely see anything. But if you look far across the lake, you can notice the smoke coming up from the volcanoes from the other side and the slow sunrise,” she says. A lengthy meditation period kicks off the day followed by a long yoga session. Next, guests forage and cook their meals as a part of the permaculture. The week-and-a-half rejuvenation period culminated in a less than calm manner. After making the 40-minute trek down to the base of the hill at 3:00 a.m., Aish found herself waiting to board her second of two shuttles to the airport to fly home with a French woman. When the shuttle finally arrives, the man checks the French woman’s ticket and helps her board. When he looks at Aish’s ticket, however, he looks at her, says “no,” and closes the shuttle door. “It’s 3:00 a.m., it’s completely dark, I don’t even know what town I’m in, there are people walking around us,” she says. “I look at him, and I start negotiating with him through the French lady. I speak a little French, and she spoke a little Spanish, so we made it work.” At this point, the time was ticking and Aish had to make sure she caught her upcoming flight so as to ensure she would not miss the next four flights it would take for her to get home to Israel. “My military mindset kicked in,” she recounts. “I thought, worst case, I would hold onto the small ladder on the back of the shuttle for eight hours.” Before settling this idea, however, Aish made several more attempts to bargain
her way onto the shuttle. Finally, she reverted to a monetary solution that quickly proved effective. “The driver smiled, he took it, and he asked me to wait a second. I was like what now? I just gave you a hundred dollars, please let me get on this shuttle,” she says. “He brought a pillow, and he made me a little room to sit on it.” Now safely on the shuttle to Guatemala City, Aish befriended a Canadian couple that gave her banana bread that at the time was seemingly a god send. Eventually, she made it to her flight. “So I got to Guatemala City, called my dad, and told him what happened. He was like, ‘Great story. Good. When’s your flight?’”
& STARTING COLLEGE
When Aish received all of her acceptances and rejections, she mapped out a trip to each school that accepted her with a scholarship. She boarded yet another plane, this time back to the US. Somewhere along the trip, she found herself in Lewisburg visiting Bucknell for the first time. With her Presidential Scholarship she earned through the essay she wrote in Guatemala on the table, she considered the prospect of coming to the University. Eventually, the tight-knit campus and Managing for Sustainability major drew her to Lewisburg. Surprised that Aish knew exactly which track within the School of Management
was the right one for her before enrolling at the University, I asked her to explain how her passion for sustainability originally piqued. “I was just hanging out with a friend and talking when she asked me ‘What do you want to do with your life?’” Aish recalls. “I said to her, ‘I simply want to make people’s lives better.’ I told her I want to do something that does good in the world and takes care of people, but on a large scale.” After that conversation, Aish’s friend, Omer, reached out to her about a new subject that she found offered at one of the university’s in Israel. “Two days later, she sends me a link to an open house for something called ‘sustainability’,” she explains. In an attempt to keep Aish in Israel for higher education, she convinced her to attend the open house. “The funny thing is, she ended up studying sustainability at that exact university.” The next obvious question was what in sustainability draws her in. “I think connections between developing and developed worlds,” Aish begins. “I think both sides can learn from each other so much; it’s not only that they can learn from us.” At school, in addition to the wealth of Managing for Sustainability courses Aish has taken thus far, she had the opportunity to take International Politics with Professor John Doces.
“He has great experience of working in developing countries and teaches with an orientation towards international development. I really hope to get a hands-on experience as well, so next year, I’m hoping to study in Yaoundé, Cameroon as a part of a sustainable development program.” Beyond studying sustainable development, Aish hopes to further develop the French vocabulary that helped to alleviate her travel mishap in Guatemala.
& LOOKING FORWARD
It’s now after midnight, our tea is lukewarm, and we’re sprawled out across the rug in the Berelson Center’s den. As a group of senior girls stumble home after a night at the bar just outside, I try to process the past three years of Aish’s life. “You say that you’re always a few years ahead,” I start. “What’s the plan? What’re you doing? Lay it on me.” The energy in the room spikes as Aish breaks out in laughter, regretting that she divulged her tendency to always plan a few years in advance. Without missing a beat, she matter-of-factly states. “Two options: either work for an international institution like the UN or start my own organization.” I let that statement sit for a second before probing further. “US or elsewhere?” Again, a brisk response and a smug smile. “It doesn’t matter, citizen of the world.”
WORDS Dante Fresse PHOTOS Sean Gilchrist
hile walking along Watsontown’s Main Street, a large ivory marquee, jutting outwards from the Watson Theater’s front entranceway, begins to enter one’s visual horizon. Rigid scars mark the building’s scabrous exterior; a chilling pallor lightens the face of the faded brick; the antiquated edifice holds a supine position—it lays paralyzed in the street, “like a patient etherized upon a table,” decomposing in the midst of bright, shining storefronts. This now dilapidated structure stands aloof from the contemporary world, aesthetically separating itself from its surroundings with a traditional 1940s-ArtDeco build. Coats of neon paint wrap around the building’s waistline, grasping the attentions of passersby and imbuing the structure with a style that inspires deep feelings of nostalgia. Peering through the windows, one can catch glimpses of the building’s interior. The collapsed ceilings, dust-ridden concession stands, and decaying wall frames inhibit the spectator from imagining the spectacular social function that the Watson Theater once served. As was the case for many post-Great Depression cinemas, the implementation of the ‘concession stand’ served to generate more income revenue and ticket sales. However, an unprecedented supplement to this financial decision was the radical transformation of the theater lobby from an inert, purgatorial space into an active social hub. This Art Deco design recalls an era when the “cinema” served as a community center for social life, hosting nightly events, promoting local activities, and aggregating all
local residents, thus reinforcing feelings of trust, solidarity, and friendship between members of the neighborhood through the pleasures of good conversation and amiable interactivity. The seething pangs of a foreign nostalgia simmer and burst beneath my skin as I stare longingly into the venue’s windows, searching for a world that has slipped silently away from my own. As my eyes pan across the interior space, I make contact with the theater’s corroded lobby area. Based on the size and seating arrangement, this space most likely served as the aforementioned site of discourse, where moviegoers could converse between screenings, discuss films, or participate in various evening events. Outside of the building, empty ticket booths and poster frames sit idly beside the metal entrance doors—one can imagine the former thrill of entering the theater on a Friday evening, giddily passing by promotional posters which would hint at the next week’s coming attractions. Such an experience epitomizes the very ethos of the film-viewing process, one must always be wooed by the spectacle of the theater—this is part of the magic of cinema. Alas, these bold desires and constructed memories can do little to properly render an image of what is ultimately lost in today’s world of streaming services and commercial multiplexes. The void created by this vacuous space accentuates this feeling of absence and expands the significant gap that threatens to separate the local environment of Watson Town from its cultural heritage. As such, the crucial role of the cinema, both as a social adhesive and cultural stimulant, has been
As I stared deeply at the blinds behind the abandoned glass, I felt bitter truths penetrate my formerly fantastic conceptions of an everlasting cinematheque. During those contemplative moments, one learns to quietly embrace the ephemerality of a picture and a place.
greatly diminished. Inspecting the Watson Theater and seeing the physical blemishes that scatter across the building’s surface can help us better understand this symptom of our present culture. The blemishes exist as symbols, capturing the decay, fragmentation, and internal discontinuity that classify the private experiences of the postmodern subject. As I walk past the entrance, sauntering through the darkened alleyways that border the eroding edifice, I see many more cracks, splits, and abrasions—places where the presence of time has wiped away the theater’s physical features and deconstructed the symbolic function of the structure. While in conversation with several locals, I was educated on the theater’s historical role in Watsontown. Many citizens claimed that the theater was, at one time, a bustling center of entertainment—screening double and triple features daily at the reasonable price of $2. Furthermore, Watson Theater was able to
construct a booming social environment through the introduction of events for moviegoers, as well as the distribution of unique concessional foods. The theater’s design was able to maximize building space and profit by creating a small ice-cream shop called “Cinema Scoops,” where passing consumers and casual moviegoers could purchase varying frozen desserts prior to or after film screenings. The importance of the Watson Theater even extended to the town’s residential market, offering living spaces above the theater to individuals who would pay rent, which would then go back to funding various production and equipment costs. Despite the short-term success of these financial endeavors, the theater closed down in September 2009 due to its inability to compete with the Regal Multiplex Cinema and the explosion of various online media streaming sites. One Watsontown resident explained to me how, in his adolescent years, this theater was “a place where my friends and I could escape from a world of responsibilities and simply become enmeshed in
whatever fantasy happened to be playing that evening.” This man then proceeded to recount the hours that he spent in and around recreational spaces or concession stands, citing the many occasions when he and his mates would linger in the theater lobby and speak energetically about the pictures that they had just seen. He remembers how, “such precious memories remain invaluable,” and possess the mystical ability to transport one back into their own youthful fantasies and relive their past as if it were its own film playing right before their eyes. Many single-screen Art Deco theatres have fallen victim to closures as a result of the growing popularity of multiplexes. The tastes of cinematic audiences have diverged from the aesthetic style of Classical Hollywood and moved towards a new appetite for larger budget commercial thrillers. In 2010, there was a crowd-
funded push to potentially buyback the Watson Theater and revive this singlescreen cinema; however, this movement failed due to a lack of sufficient funds. The Watson Theater stands as an important feature of Watsontown history, encouraging several locals to request that the cinema remain where it is—they claim that, if the venue cannot be revived, then it must be permitted to remain as a sort of “town relic.” For all future intents and purposes, the site will not be renovated or restored due to the absence of financial backing, leading me to the troubling conclusion that this wonderful piece of cinematic history will simply become “just another” failed Art Deco building. If such is the case, we can soon expect many more Art Deco theaters to assume a similar, paralytic position within their respective environments. It is crucial to the future of the cinema—functioning as the artistic agency par excellence—that
we continually acknowledge and support the existence of local, art-house theaters. These institutions capture the rich spirit of a global tradition that has evoked new excitements in the business of imagemaking. The precious existence of the quintessential cinema has helped build a remarkable community of intellectuals, innovators, and artists who have expanded our collective understanding of the human phenomenon through their deep and powerful pictures, thus rendering palpable the subtleties of private experience and social interaction for the purpose of deriving a truer knowledge of our complex psychic operations. If left unattended, these artistic havens will ultimately share the grim fate of the Watson Theater; their existence will become reduced to a vegetative state, limiting the artistic possibilities for further cultural, social, and intellectual development.
The exterior was egg white, decorated with lumps and abrasions; from this angle, the bulbs appeared as barnacles, clinging sorrily to the decaying hull of their vessel.
Et Cetera was produced using Adobe InDesign CC, Adobe Illustrator CC, and Adobe Photoshop CC. The body text is styled in Crimson Text Roman 10 point. Bylines are 10 point Oswald Bold and Light. Captions are Crimson Text Italic 9 point. Titles are in Feena Casual, Oswald Light, Ration Modern, or Futura Heavy in a range of sizes. Brilliant Printers, located in Exton, Pennsylvania, printed 300 copies of Et Cetera Issue 2. The issue is 64 pages measuring 8 and 3/8 inches by 10 and 7/8 inches. The theme for Issue 2 was “supine.” The publication was made possible via the efforts of our talented staff. Thank you for bringing Et Cetera to life. Additional gratitude to Professor Connie Timm who kickstarted our university graphic design career and Professor James Dunlap for helping us shape the identity of Et Cetera in the time leading up to the release of our first issue. A final thanks is directed towards Professor Jonathan Bean for providing guidance, insight, and inspiration throughout the creation of this issue. Et Cetera Issue 2 has found homes across the world: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. San Francisco, California. New York, New York. Morristown, New Jersey. Amman, Jordan. Lambayeque, Peru. Scottsdale, Arizona. Cover photography by Sean Gilchrist. “Wise men talk the same way my mother told me. I walk the same way my father told me. Back straight, chest out, just like a soldier.” –South, Hippo Campus
OVER COFFEE CURATED Emily Pursel PHOTO Priyanka Junankar