Thesis Fairy

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This week the Nass lives vicariously, vents to mom, and learns what professors really think of students.

The Nassau Weekly

Volume 44, Number 7 April 10, 2022

In Print since 1979 Online at nassauweekly.com


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April 10, 2022

Masthead

Editors-in-Chief

Thesis Fairy

Juju Lane Mina Quesen

Publisher Abigail Glickman

Alumni Liasion

Allie Matthias

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Managing Editors

Terrariums, Tolstoy, and Tasty Burgers: What Our Profs Really Think About Us

Sam Bisno Sierra Stern

By Lara Katz Designed by Vera Ebong

Design Editor

Cathleen Weng

6 9 14 20

The Rains of Macondo: Relevance, Our Country Friends, and the Literature of the Pandemic

Senior Editors

Lauren Aung Lara Katz

By Tommy Goulding Designed by Benjamin Small and Emma Mohrmann

Junior Editors

River House PART 2 By Charlie Nuermberger Designed by Tong Dai and Chloe Kim

My Mother, the Dumping Ground By Amaya Dressler Designed by Hazel Flaherty

highs & lows By Andrew Somerville Designed by Eman Ali

Terrariums, Tolstoy, and Tasty Burgers: What Our Profs Really Think About Us Read more on page 4.

Lucia Brown Kate Lee Anya Miller Zoey Nell Charlie Nuermberger Alexandra Orbuch

Art Director

Emma Mohrmann

Assistant Art Director

Hannah Mittleman

Head Copy Editor

Andrew White

Copy Editors

Nico Campbell Katie Rohrbaugh Bethany Villaruz

Events Editor

David Chmielewski

Audiovisual Editor

Christien Ayers

Web Editor

Jane Castleman

Social Media Chair

Mollika Jai Singh

Cover Attribution

Social Chair Chloe Kim Cover inspired by Bluebird Fairies (Emily Anderson)

Kristiana Filipov


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Volume 44, Number 7

This Week:

4:30p Sherrerd Hall Tech In Conversation: Imagining Radical Tech Futures

7:00p Carl A. Fields APIDA Heritage Month: Boba + Paint Night

Tues

4:30p ZOOM LASA Panel | Latin America in Focus

Wed

11:00p Firestone Plaza Princeton University Farmers’ Market

4:30p East Pyne Emergent Ecologies: In the Tense of a Black and Indigenous Feminist ‘Future-Now’ 4:30p LCA Conversations: Crossing Paths with Dyane Harvey, Dianne McIntyre and Jasmine Johnson 5:30p Friend Center Artist Conversation: Visual Storytelling and the Importance of Introspection

Mon

Thurs

Verbatim:

5:30p ZOOM A Conversation with Professor Odo ‘61, Director of the Smithsonian Asian American Pacific Center

Overheard over dessert Improv comedian anthro major: If I had a manager and accountant and publicist and personal assistant, I would be so successful. Overheard on Washington Road Woman rolling down car window: Excuse me! How do I get to the track meet? Terrace NARP: Sorry, you’re asking the wrong people. Other Terrace NARP, pointing at nearby students: Ask them, they’re all wearing Princeton sweatshirts. Overheard at Terrace Social justice advocate: Single people are the most oppressed minority.

About us:

Fri

11:00a Stokes 4:00p Lewis Visualizing interconnec- Learn-to-Sew Thrift Flip tions in the social sciences

Sat

5:00p Whitman The Princeton Triangle Club Spring Show

7:00p Richardson Princeton University Orchestra

Sun

8:00a LCA Senior Art Show by Samm Lee

11:00a Chapel Easter Sunday Service

Got Events?

Email David Chmielewski at dc70@princeton.edu with your event and why it should be featured.

For advertisements, contact Abigail Glickman at alg4@princeton.edu.

Overheard in the Tiger Tea Room WASPy Man: When I came here I thought everyone wore, like, sports polos and khakis everyday. Because that’s what we wore back home. Overheard in a Nass meeting Budding philosopher: I was thinking… About how Seinfeld and Kafka were in the same century. Overheard at Study Session Techie: Oh no, my tablet didn’t charge! Friend: Do you have a charger? Techie: *genuine* You are a genius. I never would’ve thought. Overheard in 1901 Innocent friend: *gravely* I am the face of evil! *trips over own shoe*

Nassau Weekly is Princeton University’s weekly newsmagazine and features news, op-eds, reviews, fiction, poetry and art submitted by students. Nassau Weekly is part of Princeton Broadcasting Service, the student-run operator of WPRB FM, the oldest college FM station in the country. There is no formal membership of the Nassau Weekly and all are encouraged to attend meetings and submit their writing and art.

Overheard after a prank Friend who breaks under moral pressure too easily: This is a mark on my conscience that will never leave. These lies have stained my soul. Prank co-conspirator: … It was just an April Fools joke. Overheard in Frist Supportive friend: I’m glad to brighten up your day with gossip. And not just any gossip… invented gossip! Overheard in a Dorm Romantic: The sole remaining balloon from Valentine’s Day. Optimist: And she’s still flying, I’m so proud of her. Romantic: Yea, I murdered all her sisters. I took scissors to them.

Overheard in Lockhart Burned Out Friend: *Goes on a depressing rant* Over-committed Verbatim fan: That’s so sad, and I can’t even verbatim it. Overheard at study break Junior thinking about JP: Life keeps happening. And I’m kinda not thrilled. Overheard in Bridges lab Girl on the verge of tears: As long as the bridge you die on is pretty, it’s fine, right? Overheard in Chinese class Participator: “This is Chinese Table propaganda delivered by Donald Trump himself”

Submit to Verbatim Email thenassauweekly@gmail.com

Read us: nassauweekly.com Contact us:

thenassauweekly@gmail.com Instagram & Twitter: @nassauweekly

Join us:

We meet on Mondays and Thursdays at 5pm in Bloomberg 044


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Volume 44, Number 7 PAGE DESIGN BY VERA EBONG

Terrariums, Tolstoy, and Tasty Burgers: What Our Profs Really Think About Us The candid opinions and hot takes of Princeton faculty members. By LARA KATZ

These interviews have been edited lightly for clarity and concision.

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n his narrow, high-ceilinged, bookclogged office, Jeff Nunokawa threw back his head and laughed: “The hardest major at Princeton? English. The easiest major at Princeton? English.” “You’re an English professor.” “Funny coincidence, yes?”

(Introducing the Cast)

Who’s your most controversial colleague? “Robbie George.” -Peter Singer, of the University Center for Human Values.

Why do students love late meal?

“Impossibly full lives that make it hard to eat on schedule.” -Emily Greenwood, of the Classics Department.

What’s your perspective on Lawnparties?

“I know they’re highly tempting for students, but I also know that they sometimes choose to come to [my] Star Parties instead, or maybe following the Lawnparties.” -Gaspar Bakos, of the Astrophysics Department.

What’s the easiest major at Princeton?

teach there. The air conditioner system does not work—if you’re in the basement, you’re kind of in the dungeon. It’s an exile. Actually, if you’re sent to teach in McCosh, students suffer, being the hostages of McCosh.” -Ilya Vinitsky, of the Slavic Department.

How objective is your grading?

“That depends on the person. Well, it depends on my mood.” -Jeff Nunokawa, of the English Department.

What’s your perspective on scooters?

“I almost crashed into a scooter—or it almost crashed into me. It didn’t happen. But I was a little bit scared.” -Ying Ou, of the Chinese Department.

This week, I conducted interviews with Princeton faculty on a variety of Princeton topics—ranging from late meal and Lawnparties to mental health and the intergenerational gap. Here’s what I learned.

“So who should I cast aspersions on? I don’t think there are any that are easy. But things like anthropology or sociology have fewer pre-reqs.” -Brian Kernighan, of the Computer Science Department.

“I’m an astronmer, so I typically think about things a couple of light years away, and these are just too close.” —Gaspar Bakos

Princeton Faculty Have Some Lukewarm Takes

“It’s really difficult to

Is Princeton in North

How do you feel about the term “McCoshed”?

Jersey, South Jersey, or Central Jersey? “Central Jersey.” -Paul Muldoon, of the Creative Writing Department. Faculty Are a Little Confused About Eating Clubs “Terrestrials?” Muldoon supplied. “Terrariums?” We were discussing what makes Terrace Club unique. Muldoon identified Terrace as the club “associated with the artsy types,” and discussed in detail his experiences performing music at Terrace. But beyond this, mystery— and disinterest. “I’m an astronomer,” Bakos said. “So I typically think about things a couple of light years away, and these are just too close.” Nevertheless, faculty are cognizant of eating clubs’ social significance and other draws. Vinitsky referenced the experiences of his daughter, a recent alumna. “Eating clubs meant a lot for [my daughter] before the pandemic, because it’s socializing in a small town. It’s not New York City, it’s not Chicago.


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It’s not even Berkeley.” Ou cited her experiences running Chinese Table at Colonial, where she observed “a great community” and “close relationships” among members. Vinitsky noted that “if students want that as a part of their memories and communities in the future, it’s up to them.” Or, as Bakos concluded, “I can smell the tasty burgers—but I am not allowed to enter.” At the same time, Nunokawa described the bicker process as “a more or less organized ritual of social stratification and cruelty,” while Muldoon joked that “[this process by which] people would deem their fellow humans to be right for them… [is] something akin to satanic rites.” Greenwood elaborated on this theme: “My impression is that they foster intensive kinds of exclusive community—so for those who are there and co-opted, it’s a very important part of the Princeton experience. But is it divisive? I know there’s a lot of controversy.” Ou offered a suggestion: “If [the eating clubs] could be more

transparent about their criteria, or their standards of admitting a new member, that would be better.” Faculty Like Ambitious Mottos Princeton’s unofficial motto is “In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity”; Princeton’s official motto is “Dei sub Numine Viget,” or “Under God’s Power She Flourishes.” Do students embody these mottos? According to Nunokawa, “Not enough. And that’s why it’s important. Many students here want to be in the service of humanity… whether they can be so is another question.” Kernighan agreed: “I think people tend to be interested in the welfare of other people. You can’t do that all the time, with all the people, and a lot of the world is too far away… [but] it’s an admirable ethos.” Singer expressed the desire to improve upon these mottos and make them even more ambitious. “That’s still too narrow for me. I would like to say ‘in the service of all

sentient beings,’ because I think it’s appropriate to consider that non-human animals have lives that matter, and that we should be trying to protect them from suffering. But it’s better than just ‘in the service of the nation.’” Greenwood provided another critique. “All elite universities have variations on this theme. It makes us the presumptive leaders of the nation, and humanity, and… we constantly need to offset that with reminders of humility.” Multiple faculty also expressed discomfort with the—presumably JudeoChristian—God appearing in our official motto. After discussing the Presbyterian origins of the University, and the historical background of “numine,” Muldoon sighed. “I’m not sure how many people really believe in an Almighty God—I don’t mean God, quote, unquote.” He added, “These are our own constructions, of course.” Nunokawa provided a different kind of insight: “I wouldn’t be able to say that I have an organized and specific

sense of God—to say that God does anything in particular—and I worry when people do. There is a Weberian-Protestant Ethic of the Spirit of Capitalismfeeling among many successful people in our society. What this sense says is that if we do well by social standards, God must be on our side. This attitude might suggest to us that if we are at Princeton, God must have written us a letter of rec. That’s not a good attitude, ‘moving forward,’ as they say.” Singer agreed. “I don’t think [a motto] that has a reference to God is appropriate anymore. I think Princeton should welcome atheists and agnostics, just as much as welcoming deists.” Grades: The Wide Curve of Faculty Perspectives Princeton’s GPA is the lowest in the Ivy League— old news to most students, but not to the professors I interviewed. Nevertheless, all had strong stances regarding the removal of the grade deflation policy five

CONTINUED ON PAGE 12


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April 10, 2022 PAGE DESIGN BY BENJAMIN SMALL ARTWORK BY EMMA MOHRMANN

The Rains of Macondo: Relevance, Our Country Friends, Friends, and the Literature of the Pandemic “The rain described by García Márquez seemed compellingly similar to the virus that had upended my own life and the lives of so many others: impersonal, unrelenting, and showing no sign of ending any time soon.” By TOMMY GOULDING

N

ear the end of Gabriel García Márquez’s mas-

One Hundred Years of Solitude, it beterwork,

gins to rain in the fictional South American town of Macondo, and does not stop for four years, eleven months, and two days. The Buendia family, whom we have followed throughout the novel, are initially hopeful for a quick passing of the inclement weather. They are quickly cured of their naïvete,

however, and soon learn to recognize the brief respites in the deluge as “a sign of a redoubled rain.” Life in Macondo, so deeply rooted in routine and stasis, is upended by the slight but persistent change in circumstance: The local industries pack up and move “to where it was not raining,” communications with the outside world break down, relations among families and neighbors are strained, and many are brought to speculate if it would “rain for the rest of

our lives.” Even in the prevailing mood of loss and gloom in Macondo, the profound change effected by the rain is not all for ill. Many residents find themselves using their time creatively; a pause in the routine of working and social life allows some “the opportunity to sit and reflect,” while for others, the disruption barely touches them, as their prior existence had already “been spent as if it had been raining.” For children, especially, the breakdown of social and education order allows them to “remember the rains as a happy time,” when they could spend more time with family and explore their curiously transformed surroundings. In a crisis of washed away normality and rotting institutions at their breaking point, there is new growth, sustained by the same waters which destroyed the old. Reading this novel all the way back in April of 2020 as a locked-down

senior in high school, I was struck by the parallels between the calamity the citizens of Macondo faced and our own national moment of pause, crisis, and breakdown. The rain described by García Márquez seemed compellingly similar to the virus that had upended my own life and the lives of so many others: impersonal, unrelenting, and showing no sign of ending any time soon. This was, I noticed even at the time, a pretty common way of relating to literature in the early pandemic. Our grief-averse culture found itself face to face with a genuine tragedy, whose gravity and duration we could only begin to understand. People turned to Camus’ “The Plague,” Boccaccio’s “Decameron,” and the passages of Thucydides’s “Peloponnesian War” on the deadly plague which ravaged Athens in 431 BCE. Timely courses in the humanities and social sciences were offered on the


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history, politics, and art of contagion and disease, and think-pieces on the “lessons” to be derived from certain pandemic-adjacent works of art and literature abounded. Everywhere in the world of the humanities, it seemed, there was a timely lesson to be learned from our shared cultural heritage of pestilence and breakdown. Passing mentions of cholera and quarantine in assigned texts took on new significance, as students and professors paused to wryly note the similarities to our own predicament. The apparent message of all this was that the role of literature and history in a crisis was as a kind of matching game between present and past. Comfort and insight into our own

moment could be generated by reading those works with the greatest density of obvious historical and thematic epidemiological connections, preferably with the word “plague” or “disease” in the title. While this was interesting enough as far as it went, it didn’t represent a deep engagement with either literature or loss; it was, like so many other things we amused ourselves with in these surreal months, a way to pass the time and try to gain some control over the tragically uncontrollable. I recognize my own shortcomings here: While I will always look back with poignancy and fondness on my own reading of the rains in Macondo, I can also see that it has serious

limitations. Excerpted without context from the novel, read with no deep knowledge of Latin American literature or culture, this passage became a kind of cipher through which I interpreted my own time and experience, rather than, as I think and hope literature can be, a radical encounter with the unfamiliar. As time went on, the fact that we were living through a pandemic became less of a phenomenon to be thought about critically and more something that we just had to deal with. There’s a funny little moment in Gary Shteyngart’s 2021 novel on the pandemic, Our Country Friends that reflects, somewhat self-consciously, on the “timeliness” of stories of breakdown and crisis. One of the main characters, the luckless author Senderovsky, is unsuccessfully pitching a TV pilot on the Soviet politics of his parents’ day to a skeptical network executive. “Oligarchs, hookers, payoffs. A former Soviet republic won’t seem that different from 2020 America to the viewer,” the executive grouses. Shrewdly, Senderovsky asks if this doesn’t “make it pertinent” to the current moment. No, the producer sighs, “it makes it depressing.” This is the challenge that Our Country

Friends itself faces: As the first major attempt at a “novel of the pandemic,” it must walk a fine line between speaking to the cultural and historic moment of the nation, and holding the interest of readers who might have grown understandably averse to another story of pandemic loss and woe. Shteyngart’s novel shows how far we have come in our engagement with literature over the course of this long pandemic: from the renewed interest in older disease lit, we now have the first attempt by a major author to reckon with the crisis in real time. Our Country Friends conjures up the world of the early pandemic deftly, the mood of fear and uncertainty, the grinding to a halt of work and school, all during a stunning springtime in the Northeastern United States. In the first week after lockdowns began, seven adult friends and one child decide to weather out the pandemic on the New England property of the Senderovsky family. After a few weeks with no infection, they soon ditch their masks and manage to live in some kind of normalcy together, albeit strictly isolated from their largely conservative neighbors and the outside world. I was initially wary of the novel’s premise when

it was given to me as a gift. I was the poster-child of pandemic fatigue: I hadn’t been keeping up on national numbers or consuming media that tried to grapple with the last year and half, and, in my little spare time for reading, didn’t want to sign up for another reminder of all that had been lost to COVID. Shteyngart was, though, a novelist I had intended to read for a while, and flipping through the opening pages I was quickly drawn into his vivid world, not necessarily by the pandemic setting, but rather by the intense vitality of his prose and characters. Although there are the occasional touches of period color necessary for a work like this — the dances of masking and unmasking; vague, ultimately substanceless hand wringing about revolution and violence; and a somewhat unconvincing side plot on cancel culture — Shteyngart for the most part pleasantly surprises in making this a novel set in, but not primarily about, the pandemic of 2020. The driving force and strength of the novel’s thematic and emotional momentum lies in the personal history and characterization of the novel’s protagonists; via old college friends and professional rivals, festering insecurities and unrequited affections,


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Shteyngart inducts the reader into a complex, decades-old interpersonal puzzle, accelerated and intensified by the uncomfortable proximity and uncertainty that the friends endure together. Sequestered as they are on the Senderovsky estate, and largely employed in passive or creative work, the challenges of pandemic that beset so many working professionals and students are largely absent from the lives of the main characters. There are notably very few scenes involving Zoom, entering indoor public places, or navigating the difficulties of meeting or missing friends that defined much of the early pandemic.

Freed up from these sorts of cares, Shteyngart leads his characters largely through problems of potentially greater historical and political stature: as second-generation immigrants from Russia, Korea, and India, the four college friends reflect on their second homeland and their own complicity with, and insulation from, its rapid deterioration. As wealthy immigrants, they are familiar with both the suffering and success contained within the American dream. Brought by their hopeful parents, their trajectory is summarized pithily: “You came, they laughed at your accent on an urban playground, and then you were

given your degree and guided into battle.” Amidst a strong sense of alienation from the “American militarism” and “mercantile greed” which underpins the life of their adopted country, the immigrant friends recognize that their success comes with a price: “All of us… are in service to an order that has long predated us. All of us have come to feast on this land of bondage.” In one sense, this sort of detached reflection can seem self-indulgent; as one character puts it, “because rich people were excused from the suffering of the world, they had to invent their own more elaborate and personalized forms of suffering.” But while the pandemic undoubtedly had a lesser impact on the sorts of upper middle class and wealthy professionals that Shteyngart depicts, it also gave exactly the space necessary for the interesting self-questioning of these characters. Their time in lockdown, eased by resources and fortune, proves to be a flowering of social and intellectual achievement for these seven friends, as they make inroads on long-dormant projects, relationships, and grievances. Instead of a novel from which we can draw conclusions about the pandemic, then, this is a novel with which we can think through

the all-too-ordinary challenges of human living, connecting, and surviving; as Shteyngart writes about a particularly touching and broken character, Vinod, he, and all of us, are “taunted by desires but trapped in a life much too small to accommodate the entirety of a human being.” The work of any literature, pandemic or no, is to help us encounter what is shockingly human, terrifyingly desired, in ourselves and in others around us. If Our Country Friends is read in decades to come, and I sincerely hope that it will be, it deserves to be read not as a period piece on the crises of 2020, but as the compelling work of longing, loss, and literature that it represents. Alongside the rains of Macondo, the existential dramas of Camus’ townspeople, and the tales of Boccaccio’s bored nobility, the story of the Senderovskys and their friends will endure, or not, not through its relevance to the moment or insight into the pandemic, but as literature that moves and surprises.

The work of Tommy Goulding, pandemic or no, is to help the Nassau Weekly encounter what is shockingly human, terrifyingly desired, in ourselves and in others around us.


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Volume 44, Number 7 PAGE DESIGN BY TONG DAI ARTWORK BY CHLOE KIM

RIVER HOUSE The continuation of a tale of fish and memory. By CHARLIE NUERMBERGER

Continued from April 3… III don’t know how to clean a fish, and there’s no one here to teach me. I don’t even have a knife to gut it with, so I release the little, slick-backed trout into the river. Here is the river, and here is the fisherman. Today, it rained: high and heaving, emptying its waters into the forest and the river below. We awoke to its sound, and,

I

remembering my father’s soporific words on fishing before a rainstorm, I returned to the basement for my rod and tackle box. By the time I descended, through sloping sides of the valley and to the bank, the rain had slipped into a downpour, but the fish still bit. I will re-emerge from this valley when I have finished. I don’t want to unpack today. It’s the sixth day at our river house, and I am resting. I must speak with the river for this one moment; you would understand. I will return with dinner if someone teaches me how to clean a fish. My spot, selected

only from a vague understanding of fishing mechanics, is grounded atop a large slab of granodiorite lunging into the stream, which the rain has rendered brown and frothing. I am in the middle of the rain. The current has picked up such that it now carries things down its length: splintered logs, rubbish and shredded tires, little girl’s clothing. Through all this motion, the fish still bite, and I still rest. Soon, a man dressed in blue winds his way along the trail by the river, and because of my near divinely selected spot, I can see him coming from a while away. When I see

his face, he is older than I expected: a flat face and sheer like my granodiorite slab. You should know that he comes in the direction of the river current. He’s wearing a nice rain jacket, and he’s old enough to be either of our fathers. He smells of river mud. He stops and asks what kind of fly I’ve got. I can’t answer because I don’t know. He says that there are rivers no one has ever fished or even touched, but this one is not like them. People have fished this river since before memory. Of course they have. He points to the walls of the valley, which still

crumble, gouged and gutted. The opposite side of the bank has been disemboweled by the steady line of a railway, but that too has been abandoned for decades, its hardwood ties rotting. It was bigger then, he says, before memory. Things often were. I shrug and turn my shoulders to the unceasing brown stream; it carries a child’s ball and maybe ceases sometimes. He speaks as if he has a personal familiarity with the river: its current, its million denizens, its sorrow. He asks if I live up the hill, and I nod. He asks if I like it up there, and I nod again. He asks what I did before we arrived at the


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river house. When I tell him we lived in the city, he wedges some tobacco between his gums and asks which city. The answer doesn’t come as easy as it should. Here I am, cursing this man for his relentlessness. I say that he’s scaring away the fish. Spitting some ruddy spit, he says, “Nothing in this river scares too easily.” He says, “You be careful, now. Worry too much, and you’ll get sick.” When he leaves, continuing down the length of the river, I reimmerse myself in the act of fishing. Discontentment fills the water. I think about how I love her so much that it’s difficult to fully conceive of what I did before meeting her, and that has a hollow humor to it. When I return to the house, I am wet, hopeful, and increasingly cold, and she sits on the porch. “Who was the man?” she asks. I offer, instead, a collection of three fossils I found along the bed of the river. I lug the cooler in front of the porch step. My lover tries to hide it, but she is holding the fish knife before I even show her the shining trout I had caught. IV As we eat dinner, I tell her the story of when I was lost in the woods. I’ve been remembering things again, and it comes to me like a dream. We eat tomatoes, butter lettuce, and sweet corn from the farmers’ market, slabs of trout, and all

this with good olive oil and beer. I say, “As a child, I would go out with my dog to the old-growth stands lining the sides of the mountains. At one time, I knew the names of all the trees, but now, I could only tell you about the red spruce and Fraser firs because they were like husband and wife there. I was a guest. I believed that, under these trees, elves or some little folk lived in those sloping hills. Because how else would you explain violets growing where they aren’t supposed to, or trails turning a way they didn’t on the way out. In time, I realized nothing actually inhabited those woods; the forest itself exacted this mischief. It doesn’t need any elves. So I would go out with my dog into those old-growth stands. This was early spring: snowmelt fattening the mountain cricks, snowdrops coming through the last planes of ice. I couldn’t tell you why, but, at some point, I left the little parcel of land my family owns, maybe looking for something. I should tell you, my mother, at the time, owned a small bit of land carved from the base of this mountain whose name was High Knob. We never hunted it. We never farmed it. It was just our land. My dog and I vault over the little brook that marks the property, and almost immediately, my dog runs off into those spruces and firs. Anyways, I go after him. I’m sure the two of us are trespassing

into something. Chasing after a dog is hard, and it’s harder through the hills. It’s harder when you’re just a boy. Of course, as the sun begins sitting lower up there, I find my dog and realize I’m entirely lost. And the forest begins enacting its mischief, making sounds and all. Things seem smaller, closer. It gets much windier than earlier in the day. I’m afraid, and my dog is afraid.” “Were you actually?” she asks. “Was I what?” “Were you actually afraid?” “Yes,” I shake my head and take a drink, “Yes.” “Okay.” “So the forest is doing things that it shouldn’t, but I have my dog with me, and we are just throwing ourselves at the nearly impossible task of finding our way back to my home. I forgot to say that it was cold, early spring, and piercing. It was dark.” “How did you do it?” she asks again. “Something unintelligible happened, which now I couldn’t exactly explain. This was when the forest was still ancient and powerful. I find myself in an old mountain graveyard, slung high so rain doesn’t wash out the graves on its path to the valley. My fingers are curled around my dog’s collar, and they begin to ache. I sit down with my back against a gravestone and start crying. The wind,

which sent the trees leaning and creaking, seemed to stop, or at least slow into an indiscernible respiration. It was very quiet. I was resting. Then, I hear something like a scream, from the other side of the hill. It was horrible, and I ran, revitalized, powerful again. I can’t exactly remember what happened next; I was a child. I must have seen some landmark because, suddenly, as if I was the dog and could smell my way home, I knew the way back. Maybe it was the elves, or the forest. I get to the front door, all covered in the frosty, early spring mud; my mother is clearing away dinner. I had been lost for hours even though it had felt like days.” “Maybe you weren’t as lost as you had thought,” she says after I finished my story. “Could be.” “It was a good story.” “I was lost enough that it felt like I too could become a part of the forest, like it would have been easy.” “How would that have worked.” “You’re right.” I smile. “It’s trite to become part of the forest. It’s too convenient.” I pause for a moment and realize that I have become drunker than I had anticipated. “It was more like I could speak with it, I guess, like I could ask for directions.” “It’s a good thing you can’t get lost here, with the river. You can just follow


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it to the house.” “Do you have any stories of being lost?” “No.” “You’ve never been lost?” I lean back and open another beer with the bottle-opener from a swiss army knife. “Not lost like that.” “Lost in other ways?” “Maybe.” “Tell me one of those.” This is almost a demand. Our river house fills with sound when a fox or maybe an infant screams from the woodline. The noise swells, collapses, and palpitates. It goes on for longer than it seems reasonable to. At some point, the noise becomes so low that it barely seems audible, and then it picks up again into its melancholy discord. You’d hate it, but it never becomes whining or grating: just hard, ululating, like sorrow. It’s rushing water; it’s falling rain; it’s ten thousand soft-pelted rabbits descending the hills to the river. For a moment, I think the damselfly will come knocking on our door. Before we go to sleep, I tell her again that I love her, really. Dream 5

Fingers of rain have already dragged through the gravel driveway, when we wind our way up it the first time. The river house is clapboard, pale green from algal bloom, and shuddering in the vacant wind. The bowed slats of the porch

have a familiar creak. I open the screen door, then the front door, and on the back of it, someone has painted the rules of this place. They tell me how to live here. I learn how to read my dreams, how to speak with strangers I meet on the river, how to cook fish without getting sick. There is nothing on how to stop feeling this way, dissonant. I have not violated any of these rules. I say, mostly to myself, “How can I stop feeling this way?” If this was a real story, I would have wronged the river, or my lover, or the low mountains in which I was born. If this was a good story, there would be some discernible cause for these dreams and the dissonance that follows them. There would be wrongdoing and also repentance. I become angry. When I’ve had enough of the rules of this river house in their crude writing on the back of the door, I sit on the porch for a little while, resisting the river house proper. The wind asks if I still love her, but this time, it isn’t screaming. My dog yelps from over the ridge. The damselfly emerges from the house. It has come from the bedroom and holds a bottle of wine unfamiliarly, like it’s a house-warming present. For this next part of the story, it begins, I will answer your remaining questions.

“Why?” I ask. CONTINUED ON PAGE 16


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Volume 44, Number 7 PAGE DESIGN BY VERA EBONG

Terrariums, Tolstoy, and Tasty Burgers CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5

years ago. “I was actually on the committee that rescinded [the grade deflation policy],” Kernighan told me. Why? “The perception—and perhaps the reality—was that [grade deflation] was doing damage to students,” he explained—graduate school admissions and job applications spring to mind. Bakos, however, was doubtful: “If you see someone coming from Princeton, that’s a good sign… if the GPA is reasonable, it’s a secondary thing.” Singer disagreed with the question’s premise. “We have inflation. To me there’s no dispute about it…it seems to be a pity that we can’t use the full range of grades to show students how well they’re doing.” Singer went on to explain that he feels “pressured to give grades in the best possible value ranges, because students regard anything less than a B+ as a poor grade.” In contrast, Ou, who came to Princeton the year after the grade deflation policy was dropped, described her department as “supportive” of her grading

policies, emphasizing, “I don’t have pressure from the program or the department that I should keep the A- or the A to a certain percentage.” The faculty were united in their discomfort with being told how to grade. Muldoon explained that “one of [the reasons I dislike grading policies] has to do with trusting the faculty to know what they’re doing. I mean, we actually know how to grade, right? And we should not be required to grade on a curve.” Similarly, despite changes in University grading policies, Bakos remarked, “I don’t think my grading changed at all in the past ten years.” Vinitsky kept it simple: “I don’t want to look at the statistics saying, ‘you have to curve no more than this.’” There’s also the question of objectivity in grading. “I don’t think I would have the heart to fail students, or give very bad grades, but it’s more objective than that. There’s certain percentages, and there’s a curve,” Bakos told me. Nunokawa suggested that the difficulty we have in agreeing on objective standards dwells at the heart of our problems as a society: “Agreeing on

the criteria for judgment is a real problem. Our growing failure to do so is why our society is so fucked up, in a nutshell.” Later, he affirmed the value of striving for objectivity: “I believe in the idea of objective criteria. If we lose that, we are truly screwed.” Kernighan was the most diplomatic, restraining himself from passing judgment without further research into the matter: “I don’t have anything other than anec-data, and that’s probably a bad thing for trying to be objective about it.” Many faculty members expressed that grades don’t capture the nuance of development. “I don’t think of grades as being indicative of somebody’s intellectual worth or potential,” Greenwood told me. “There are so many different kinds of B+’s or A-’s or A’s, and to say that it’s a generic A doesn’t really tell you much about the quality of insights of an individual student’s work.” “That’s very diplomatic,” I replied. She laughed. “Well, it might sound diplomatic, but I suppose it’s just the difference of perspective—how it might look from a faculty member’s perspective, versus a student’s.” She

went on to explain that faculty also experience a kind of grading, such as when they send out book manuscripts or undergo peer review. As a result, “the mindset in which we think is formative. What’s wrong with this? How can this be improved? Rather than, ‘this is an A, B, or C.’” Vinitsky likewise expressed that “what really matters is the progress of an individual student within the class… It’s about development.” Muldoon indicated another kind of insight: “I know when half an hour was spent [on the homework]. I know when two hours were spent, six hours—you know, you know.” Vinitsky furthered this. “If students are thinking only about grades, we immediately feel it as instructors… Grades are important, but grades are secondary to motivation.” Faculty Agree That At Least Some Students Work Hard There are a range of students at Princeton with a range of priorities (academic, extracurricular, athletic, and otherwise). I asked the faculty whether they think the Princeton workload is too much, too little, or about right—a


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question which received numerous sighs and even some laughs. “Students do so much,” Greenwood said. “By its nature, the liberal arts curriculum adds up to multitasking.” Muldoon was especially amused by this question. “I don’t think there are many students that I run into who are sitting around twiddling their thumbs.” Bakos echoed that “it’s very hard to find really laid-back students who don’t overachieve.” Ou offered an evidence-based perspective. “I often ask my students the question, 你累不累?(Are you tired?) and 你忙不忙?(Are you busy?) and always get yes, the answer is always yes.” Nunokawa had a different angle. “I don’t think the workload is too much. I think the load is too much—the idea that it’s always work in an ugly un-fun compulsory sense. Reading Jane Austen is work, not just for a grade, but for a sense of selfworth.” His frustration was tangible. “That’s what sucks. Yeah. That’s capitalism. By making work something you do for a number or a line item on your resume (a GPA, an internship, an annual

salary), you diminish or downright destroy its fun part.” Singer was more hesitant to describe the Princeton workload as inherently demanding. “I don’t see [students] as being excessively hard at work. I’m not sure whether [the workload] is about right or too little.” So why do some students appear so overwhelmed? “Some of them are extremely concerned about getting straight A’s. They might have difficulty achieving that.” Kernighan brought up what he called “the other side of” the conversation, saying that “people do play pretty hard sometimes too, in various forms—not just going to the Street. People are very much involved in athletics, performance, things like orchestra and dance… you only have so many hours.” Bakos agreed: “It’s just non-stop something happening, constant stimulus, and no time… it seems like [students are] trying to max out all the opportunities, and then it leads to this rush.” Ou and Muldoon both lamented students taking more than four classes. “There seems to be some strange merit associated with taking

five or six classes… there’s

“ For better or worse, I don’t see the whole student, I see the part of the student that shows up in my class.” ­—Brian Kernighan

plenty to stress about in the world, without adding extra stress to oneself,” Muldoon said. So how to achieve what Greenwood termed “the freedom of the University experience”? Bakos had some practical advice: “Sometimes it seems like all [students] would need is a little rest.” Nunokawa sounded especially exasperated: “Damn, I wish we could at least make it possible for kids to have more fun with the books I teach them.” There’s an Intergenerational Gap About Mental Health All the faculty I spoke to were aware that at least some students struggle with mental health issues, but many acknowledged a discomfort with the topic, a desire for distance, and the intergenerational

gap that intercedes this topic—as well as the emotional burden on faculty when students come to them with questions about mental health. “It was a really strange experience when students came into my office hours and asked me some psychological mental health questions, and shared their experiences. Oh, no. No, I’m not a doctor. I’m a scholar,” Vinitsky, who used to teach a class on representations of melancholy and depression in literature, told me. “For better or worse, I don’t see the whole student, I see the part of that student that shows up in my class,” Kernighan said, before referencing Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) as the avenue students should turn to—an avenue which, in reality, many students have found blocked or excessively challenging to navigate. Kernighan acknowledged this too: “[CPS] takes resources, and you can’t just turn a tap and there’s more resources available.” Greenwood distilled the situation, explaining,

CONTINUED ON PAGE 18


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Volume 44, Number 7

PAGE DESIGN BY HAZEL FLAHERTY ARTWORK BY HAZEL FLAHERTY

My Mother, the Dumping Ground “I love my mother, but how is anyone supposed to respond to an endless bucket of support?” By AMAYA DRESSLER

S

pring break had just arrived. In less than five minutes, I would see my mother for the first time that year. I am incredibly fortunate to have one truly kind, giving parent, and this meant that I could always be certain of one thing: my mother would be excited to see me. Likely, she’ll have come pre-stocked with homemade goodies. And certainly, she’ll want to hear me talk. Endlessly. We spent the first couple minutes catching up—well, catching up on my life. I’d ask her ‘how’s the family?’ and she’d ask me (with a much greater show of urgency) how am I doing? She’d told me that I looked pale, that I needed

a warm meal. Meanwhile, I worried that she looked tired. Yet I didn’t say anything. Why? She worries that I’ve been working too hard, and, if I do not interrupt her, this barrage of concern could go on for hours. I could indulge myself, placing my shiny new college life on

display as though my life were the only one that mattered. And this is what I did. I talked and talked. It felt like I had spent the past six months working nonstop, and now it was my time to espouse every new-learned fact, every annoyance, every, last superficial development in my life since the last time my

mother had seen me. Yes, I wanted to ask her how she was doing. I wanted to show her that I did care. But, once I’d started talking, I couldn’t stop. This, I told myself, was my only chance to be self-indulgent, to think out loud and purely of myself. My mother was the only one who would

listen, who would bear through all my exhaustive, egotistical self-reflection. At some point in the past year, my mother became the emotional outlet for my every pent-up thought. At a younger age I would have stopped here,

seeing my mother as the justification to why I, certainly, was not selfish. I could never talk the way with my friends that I do with my mom. I would be ashamed of myself. I would be taking from them, and offering virtually nothing in return. I had always looked at this time with my mother as a gift—a short period of time where I was allowed to be selfish. I could purge myself of all these self-indulgent thoughts so that later I wouldn’t need to bother my friends with the same self-referential observations or another meaningless grade on a paper. Beyond that, it seemed like my mother enjoyed listening to me. Or, at least, she wouldn’t say anything if she didn’t. Deep down, I know that a very integral piece of my ego needs to believe that my mother is interested in my life. To a certain extent, I think this might be


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inevitable. But now I worry … how much am I missing from her life? I ask her to pay attention to me, constantly. I want her to listen to my every whim, and I get annoyed when she doesn’t. I love my mother, but how is anyone supposed to respond to an endless bucket of support? How can you ever express your gratitude to the person who, beyond giving you life, would still give up anything for you, regardless of the mistakes you make? I’m beginning to wonder if part of “growing up and growing out”—or that inkling that this relationship just isn’t the same anymore—is recognizing that these other halves are humans too, and it’s as much up to us to acknowledge their existence as they do ours. I want to offer some piece of sage advice about

how we can have our cake and eat it too. Maybe, there really is a way where I can lean on my mother’s willingness while also treating her with the decent respect she deserves. But I haven’t found it. What I can say, however, is that I’ve resolved to stop talking so much about myself and start focusing the conversation on her. And it’s hard. There are times where this display of respect only seems to divide us. Part of it requires me pulling back and going out of my way to make sure my mother has her fair piece in the conversation. I have to remind myself that, just because I’m away, it doesn’t mean that her life has slowed down. Sometimes, I worry that respecting her creates a certain distance between

us. Maybe—if I’m giving her the respect she deserves—maybe I can’t be as personal with her anymore. But I don’t think this is true. Our relationship is different now. I don’t think

I can turn to her with my every problem anymore. But I can’t talk to her about her past, about what she’d lived when she was my age. My mother was hesitant to share anything at first. But the more she opens up about herself, the more I remind her that I want to hear

about her life … the more we seem to find in common. For the two days she gets to visit, I get to discover and explore the things she’s always loved, and this makes our limited time together all the more precious. I find I look forward to her visits now more than ever. But I’m also confident that, when she departs, she’ll head home knowing that I worry about her just as much as she worries about me. She always worried that the distance between campus and home would lead us to grow apart. But I think I’m just growing up. The Nassau Weekly finds it looks forward to Amaya Dressler’s visits now more than ever.


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Volume 44, Number 7 PAGE DESIGN BY TONG DAI ARTWORK BY CHLOE KIM

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11

The damselfly gestures vaguely. Do you have anything else you’d like to do here? I survey the crab-

grass lawn, the black cherry trees now more overtaken by mile-a-minute than I remembered, the dogwood. You have unpacked everything.

“I’ve had enough.” “This

is

your

home.”

“I wouldn’t say home. There’s so much emptiness, in this house that has never been occupied, on the banks of this river that has never been fished.” Tell me more about emptiness.

“It’s

like

all

this

discontentment is supposed to amount to something. I stumble my way through so much everyday. There’s supposed to be a release; something has to happen. The river should stop moving. Something has to change. Because you can’t tell me that people have lived this way since the beginning, whatever you said earlier, before memory.” Do you feel more empty than those people, because the river won’t stop moving?

“Make no mistake, river, I am not empty. Nothing happens in this story, except for this convenient little ending, and nothing lives in this river house, but these things aren’t

indicative of any emptiness inside myself. I am full and hot and vivid. I am the center of this story.” Convenient?

This conversation, it feels too convenient. Maybe it would feel more engaging, or gripping, or substantial if it happened a few days ago, but this story where nothing occurs has dragged on too long. This little talk wraps things up too well. I mean, I’ve been trying to talk to you all week. You are small, river, and I will not be worn down by you. There’s no convenience here. The damselfly be-

comes increasingly indignant, and maybe a little scared. You know, this

receiving a little baby boy.

Is she going to kill me? No.

Is she cheating on me? Has she been horrible? Am I to be again rebuked by a lover’s history, to return to my doggish ways? No.

Okay. I hope this has all been helpful.

It’s been a nice week here. Good.

River, I am going to kill you tomorrow. I will stop your movement. It’s not really how it works.

Can we open that bottle at least? Quiet. Look. She is coming now, from the river.

story doesn’t end with you

She limps her way up the trail, her belly full and bloated with river water. V When I awake on this seventh day in our river house, I feel truly sick. I am sick enough that I can’t do anything. She has already left the bed, and as I haul myself from our bed, as I disgorge just endless vomit into our toilet, I reason that this is the first time I’ve been alone in the house. Then, I think that this can’t


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possibly be true, but it is. Inexplicably, I have not been in this house without her. There was a time she cleaned spiderwebs from the porch while I prepared breakfast, but even then, the window was open. I fall asleep again on the cool tile of the bathroom, thinking about how I have spent such an incredible amount of time with her. Soon though, I pull myself to the bed because I realize that no one is here to carry me back to it. I have become needy. On my staggering way to our bed, where she should be sleeping, I stub my toe on the bedside table because we have finally unpacked it. I’m staring idly at the house we have finally assembled. From here, I can see the viburnum, wagging through the open window of the kitchen. I can see a sliver of light from the screen door that leads to our porch. I notice, for almost the first time, that her paints are gone from the cabinet. VI The city’s current broke us on the rocks of our little apartment months before we pulled ourselves into that little car and drove through the rush of green valleys that led us here. It was February, and we were discontent. The night before we fled, we attended the final night of her gallery showing. She had titled it ‘Dogbone,’ and I could never figure the whole thing

out. We just couldn’t find parking anywhere. I took the fifth of gin in a plastic bottle that she hides in the glove compartment because I didn’t own a flask, and we made a promise. She said, “I need a change of scenery,” but she really meant I can’t paint you anymore. I agreed. We sealed it with a swallow from the bottle: her after me. We took some more drinks, and walked into the brightness of the gallery like it was a dream. I think they knew she was a little drunk, but reduced it to artistic eccentricity. I don’t know what they thought about me. We

floated through the gallery, looking at her pictures that we had seen before. The critics said that her flight to the river was strange for a number of reasons. First, they said that her previous collections, including ‘Dogbone,’ were stark, brutal, industrial. I tended to agree. The liquor finally began permeating our stringy, real bodies when we reached the seminal painting in this series. She titled it “John.” The gallery workers hadn’t set it up very well because the lights casted a cruel glare across the oils. The first time she had taken me to ‘Dogbone,’ it

took me a moment to realize that the painting was me, with my knees drawn up into my chest and bloodied, lying in a cardboard box. He appeared to be screaming. The boy, who is me, looked pitiful, and I wondered about how much I am an object of pity, and I wondered about how much she is an object of my affection. I imagined her finishing this painting: brush in hand like a fish knife. My mouth was open. In time, I realized nothing actually inhabited Charlie Nuermberger; the Nassau Weekly itself exacted this mischief.


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Terrariums, Tolstoy, and Tasty Burgers

PAGE DESIGN BY VERA EBONG

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13

“Specifically in the last five years, professors have become acutely conscious of student mental health, “[but] sometimes we are sporadic in our attempts to help, or despondent in knowing how to help practically.” Ou elaborated on the challenges faculty face when they encounter students who are struggling: “Professors will contact this office [CPS], or students’ Deans of College, when they find students are falling behind, or when they feel like a student is in a situation that seriously hinders [their] study and [their] normal life. And that’s often too late.” I posed a follow-up question: do students prioritize their mental health—and should they? “We should be thinking about [mental health] every second of every minute,” Nunokawa declared. Singer disagreed. “There is actually a problem with the way you’ve asked that question. I don’t think students should focus on their own mental health. I think the way to good mental health is to focus on the activities that you want to do, and that you see as enjoyable and worthwhile. The idea that you should prioritize your own mental health is too much navel-gazing for me.” Singer went on to emphasize

that students who are truly struggling should seek the help they need, but “if we’re talking about the average student who has no particular reasons to think that they’re having some kind of mental health crisis, they shouldn’t be thinking about their own mental health very much. They should just be getting on with things that they enjoy doing.” It’s clear that there is an intergenerational gap, perhaps specifically in terms of mental health issues, between students and faculty—but where that gap lies, and how to overcome it, is perhaps best managed through intergenerational dialogue. Greenwood had practical suggestions, describing her own thought process as saying, “Okay, [it] says this on the syllabus, but we’re all flagging, and it’s a stressful point to the semester. Let’s tweak this a little.” She went on to express that “it would be great to have more student-authored guidelines for faculty, things you’d like us to know, and how we can help in even more meaningful ways.” Vinitsky further clarified why student-authored resources might be necessary: “My daughter, several months ago, told me, ‘I don’t want to argue with you, because when you speak with me, you think that I represent

my generation, as if you speak with my generation through me—and we are different. There’s something in common there, but I’m not standard for my generation.’ And it was a revelation for me. Implicitly, I did consider her as speaking on behalf of her generation.” Important to note is that some faculty interact with students over the course of decades. Kernighan, who has been teaching for over twenty years, described how “every year in September, we have this great collection of brand new people, and they’re all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and it’s fun. You can beat that out of them over a semester or a year.” Nunokawa mentioned how in 1988, when he started teaching at Princeton, another professor loudly declared to him that worrying about student mental health “is not the university’s business.” Today, however, “We are very far from that. Could [the administration] be doing more? I guess so, sure. We should always be doing more—I mean, yeah, a lot more. Always. All of us should.” There was also a sense that professors feel exceptionally responsible, both for students and their futures. Singer said, “What should I be doing for my students? And what should I be doing for the

world? That kind of question comes up for me all the time.” Nunokawa pinpointed this feeling as “a sense of shame” regarding his inability to make a greater difference in the world. “Since the election of the former president, [I’ve been] thinking, what the fuck have we been doing that this came about? Why couldn’t I, and people like me, have predicted this and done more to stop it? What kind of namby-pamby bullshit have I been doing instead?” Greenwood identified these questions as arising from the intergenerational gap. “We’ve seen a lot in the last ten years—some students quite explicitly saying, ‘respect and everything, but you guys have messed things up. You’ve messed up the climate, you have outmoded attitudes on gender and sexuality and race… the sooner we get into positions of power, the better.’” Vinitsky maintained an optimistic perspective on intergenerational com-

“[Being a professor is] like beeing a stuent for sixty years.” —Paul Muldoon munication, referencing Tolstoy, the topic of his most well-known course. “[Tolstoy] believed that


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April 10, 2022

there are certain stages we go through, but we can still understand each other.” Faculty Do Not Want Students Worrying About Them (And Their Mental Health) After delving deeply into issues of student mental health, I turned the question around: should students be worrying about faculty mental health? After all, as Muldoon put it, “[Being a professor is] like being a student for sixty years.” Yet responses were notably brief. “No,” said Kernighan. “And I conjecture that the average student doesn’t think of faculty mental health problems because they’ve got enough of their own.” Greenwood disagreed with this conjecture, but not the overall point: “It isn’t students’ job to carry the burden of worrying about all the faculty… I think students are compassionate and considerate, but why should you have to worry about that institutional piece of the pie?” Singer echoed these sentiments: “The faculty can be looking after their own mental health.” Or as Nunokawa put it, “This is not our show. I mean, it is our show, but I don’t think [students]

have to worry about my mental health.” Laughing, he went on to joke, “I think they enjoy [my sanity’s] presence, or absence, or possible presence. I do think so. I’ve been called crazy a lot by students. And I’ve always taken it as a compliment.” The Hardest Part of Being a Princeton Professor Is the Students… But It’s Not Too Hard? Princeton faculty seem to see students as intense individuals. Much in the same way that we students may feel impostor syndrome when we observe our classmates appearing to achieve and succeed at so much, so may faculty. “One of the jokes about Princeton is that most of the people who teach here would never get in,” Muldoon said. Bakos elaborated: “I have many students who wake up at 5 every morning to go to the swim team, and then they come into class, and I feel a bit embarrassed that I didn’t do anything between 5 and 7 AM. I was just sleeping.” Modestly, Bakos then compared himself to Zero, the lobby boy in the movie Grand Hotel Budapest: “Why did I come to the Grand Hotel Budapest?

Well, who wouldn’t? It is an institution.” Most inspiringly, the faculty seem to love their jobs, with Kernighan calling professorship “actually quite good” and “a lot of fun.” Muldoon explained, “I don’t think of [being a Princeton professor] as being hard. I don’t say that it’s easy, but there is so much joy for me involved… and it’s so much fun to work with young people.” Nunokawa agreed. “I don’t know very many hard parts. That’s how much I love this job.” Nevertheless, many of the faculty also expressed a desire for more connection with students. “I would like to have more conversations,” Ou said. “And I hope my students could have more time to come to cultural events… so that faculty members and students could have more opportunities to interact outside class, and to share some more personal things that we cannot talk about in class.” Greenwood similarly emphasized “making sure that we faculty learn from students and vice versa.” Nunokawa finished our conversation with an idea that, although somewhat contradicting his earlier agnostic stance,

seemed reflected among all the faculty I spoke with: “I believe very strongly in the pastoral work of teaching. I’m ashamed to believe in it so much. It’s a practically religious faith.” Speaking with these professors reaffirmed this sense of faith for me as well, as well as of “forces beyond us,” as Muldoon put it, which may inspire us to write poetry and live rich lives. I believe I’ve grown this week, more than I have in any one lecture, even though conducting these interviews amounted to only a few hours of my time. I hope you’re also inspired to have conversations with your faculty—you may find yourself learning about a professor’s dream course, covert observations of student parties, or their anti-vaxxer personal trainer—or you may discover you’re only a Terrestrial or Terrarium after all. Most inspiringly, the faculty seem to love the Nassau Weekly, with Lara Katz calling it “actually quite good” and “a lot of fun.”


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by andrew somerville

PAGE DESIGN BY EMAN ALI

i d o n’ t r e m e m b e r a t i m e i w a s h a p p i e r th a n w h e n we m a d e i t t o th e p e a k a n d we c o u l d n’ t s e e a ny th i n g th r o u g h th e c l o u d s we we r e s o h a p py but so cold f l o a t i n g i n th e o r a n g e o a s i s we r a n b a c k t o th e c a r t o g e th e r a n d i c o u l d n’ t s t o p g i g g l i n g w a s t i n g g a s w i th yo u w a s l i ke b u y i n g e n d o r p h i n s a f t e r we g o t t o th e b a s e o f th e m o u n t a i n a g a i n i c o u l d n’ t l e t g o o f yo u r h a n d th e n ex t d ay w h e n we d r ove o u t o f t ow n yo u t o l d m e th i s i s w h e n yo u r e a l i z e d yo u t o o k p i c t u r e s o f th e v i ew th e h o r i z o n a n d th e f i r ewo r k s s t a n d f a s t - fo r w a r d i d o n’ t r e m e m b e r a t i m e i w a s m o r e s c a r e d i c o u l d n’ t b e l i eve w h a t yo u’d d o n e t o m e i j u s t w a n t e d yo u t o l ove m e a n d yo u h u r t m e yo u t o o k a d v a n t a g e o f my m o u th a n d th e n yo u fe d m e l i e s u n t i l i sw a l l owe d i sw a l l owe d yo u r l i e s a n d th e y c a m e b a c k u p a s t e a r s a n d i fe l t b a d fo r yo u i fe l t s o b a d fo r yo u n o th i n g w a s i n my c o n t r o l th e a i r p l a n e s we r e t a k i n g o f f a n d th e r e w a s n o th i n g i c o u l d d o t o s t o p th e m a n d b e fo r e yo u l e f t yo u l i e d t o m e eve n m o r e t r i e d t o s ave yo u r s e l f from a decision already made a t th e ex p e n s e o f my fe e l i n g s b e c a u s e my fe e l i n g s n eve r m e a n t a ny th i n g t o yo u yo u t o l d m e th a t yo u d o n’ t w a n t t o h u r t a nyo n e b u t th a t ’s a l l yo u eve r d i d t o m e yo u p u l l e d m e u p t o th e g r e a t e s t h i g h s just to drop me a n d w a t c h m e f a l l t o th e wo r s t l ow s


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