Reading Rights: I’ve lost my train of thought

Magdalena Waz

(Drawing by Annie Raccuglia)

I thought I could summarize, restate my thesis, but only now do I realize that there wasn’t one. Ideally, I had wanted to condemn student apathy. I saw a lot of things as problems, including technology and vandalism. Over the course of the past term, I couldn’t help but wonder about how reactionary some of my stances were, though. I desired to return things back to the way they had been because nobody cared anymore about reading, or good movies, or anything that took longer than five seconds to process. I was whining.

I still believe that since we are given the opportunity, we should consider ourselves little intellectuals in training. College should be about learning new and cool things, regardless of how much Maroon 5 you’re listening to. Are you still listening to Maroon 5? I did, just a few nights ago.

I shouldn’t have attacked popular culture in order to attack people, because they’re not one and the same. Of course, some correlation exists. We mark ourselves and our friendships by the type of music we listen to, the type of blogs we read and the type of movies we watch. But of course, that’s always been the case, except when there was less of everything being produced and everyone read the same community paper and talked about the same cultural events.

A few days ago, I heard that there are 15,000-17,000 movies made yearly in the United States alone. There’s no way we would have enough time to watch all of them. But if there were four made every year, you’d probably be expected to see them all. I’m glad that more people now have access to film production and to publishing, and I don’t think that this cheapens the final product. I’m not taking into account, though, the fact that this increased production naturally coincides with an increased pressure on our time.

Everything wants us to pay attention. I myself put demands on your time by continuing to produce writing in a world saturated by it. And after I’m done writing this, I’ll tweet about it and then maybe I’ll update my blog. It’s just too much information all of the time, and we have no choice but to pick and choose where and how we’re willing to spend our time.

Liars, a band I saw live almost a year ago, has a song called “The Overachievers.” It feels kind of nonsensical at first because it’s hard to decipher the lyrics, but the second-to-last verse is actually, “And once we’d had enough/we gave up on our jobs/and bought back all our time/to spend it walking in the forest.” It sounds pedestrian, like the usual fantasies of escaping the “real” world and living a quiet life in a clearing. But it speaks to time wasted on things we never needed while ironically referring to it as a commodity, something that can be bought and traded still.

I’ve given a ton of instructions, suggesting that we read books and pay attention to the world outside of Lawrence while treating it as a home and supporting all of our classmates. These things I marked as the normal things we do, but when I do all that I say I’m supposed to, I get overwhelmed. I want to give up, buy back some time so that the clocks turn back a few hours and I can just rest.

My intention was never to incite in you this awful, anxious frenzy to do and see everything. What I wanted was to have us all consider what our place is as consumers of culture without losing sight of the pleasure of it.