Continuing the discussion of Greek tragedy, Jacke takes a look at Nietzsche and the impact he has on eager young philosophers. This episode includes the Jacke Wilson story “My Roommate’s Books” from the History of Jacke in 100 Objects series.
My roommate arrived before I did; I met his stuff before I met him.
Meeting his stuff first was fine with me, because the truth was that I was a little afraid of him. Wilfred Carter Boiteaux III. From New Orleans. Or maybe of New Orleans? I had not known anyone with a name like that before.
A month earlier we had spoken on the phone. I had expected Thurston Howell but he didn’t sound quite like that. He sounded like a decent guy who would make a good roommate. If anything he sounded as anxious and nervous as me.
And now, as I gazed at his stuff, I saw nothing to concern me. Nothing violent or bizarre; no gaudy signs of wealth. A suitcase, unopened, stood in his closet. A small black-and-white television sat on the corner of the desk, next to the folder of orientation materials we’d received in the mail. On the top of the folder was the yellow sheet with the room assignments, just like the one I had, only in the blank for roommate, his sheet would have my name instead of his own.
Jacke Wilson from Cadbridge, Wisconsin. Just how disappointed had he been to see that?
Well, what could I do about it now? Maybe I’d grow on him.
Then I looked up and noticed something else: his bookshelf. It was completely full.
Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate, takes a look at kids these days. “The helicopter generation has gone to college,” she wails, “and the results might be tragic for us all.”
I confess I started skimming at this point. But this certainly caught my eye:
I do not want to live in a world where the University of Chicago is considered “weird,” and nobody else should either.
I hear you, Rebecca Schuman!
Except, well… this.
And of course this.
So maybe we just wallow in the weirdness for a while?
Onward. Weirdly upward.
My first few months at the University of Chicago were bliss. College! Great books! Stimulating conversations in the dorm cafeteria! At first it did not bother me that everyone around me was miserable. This, after all, was a place that welcomed misery. We thrived on it.
And if you were feeling down, you could open the campus newspaper and turn to the funnies:
Ha ha ha ha ha. See? Instant pick-me-up.
During my first year a magazine—I think it was Playboy—ran a survey of the Best Party Schools. We came in at number 300, dead last. #299 was West Point.
But hey, I tried to make the best of things. I launched into this world with great seriousness and a masochistic redefinition of fun.
It worked for a while. Continue reading