Though often rough, UCSD is an idyll

Anything is a legitimate area of investigation.

Crammed against a pillar in the Price Center on a rainy day, it becomes all too obvious that despite what may be said about expansions, fee increases, railroading, an evil vice chancellor and politics, the place is altogether too crowded. Now, while a rainy day in San Diego is no doubt a chance occurrence, eating my food standing up mashed in between waves of people is no doubt some sort of metaphor for life as an undergraduate on this campus. And then again, for all the griping I do in this column and the reams of newsprint I waste complaining about random academic policies (or nonexistent expansions), once in a while, one has to look back and realize just how petty and idiotic it seems in comparison to global events — or even the suffering of individuals not privy to the ivory tower we live in.

Murder has its sexual side.

Not to be melodramatic or anything, but our society is about to embark on a mission to kill potentially thousands of people we have deemed a threat to us. Now, regardless of one’s politics, I do wonder if the intractable difference between those who oppose war and those who favor it is the question of whether it is a greater sin to kill one’s enemy who might — and might not — kill one’s kin, or to let one’s kin be slain by inaction. One wonders just how much either side, pacifist or hawk, allows that the issue is a bit less than black and white.

In a dream you found a way to live and you were filled with joy.

But then maybe geopolitics is all rather silly as well. Wars and diplomacy, rhetoric upon idiocy; we live relatively peaceful lives in our enclave, and we need not be disturbed by the events of the outside world. Maybe the melodramatic thing is to march and chant and believe I’m actually going to change the course of anything by carrying a sign in San Francisco or writing a column. In all reality, I’m halfway convinced that UCSD is some second coming of Eden, between the weather, the utter lack of violent crime and the plenty of fruit to be had. There’s even a plaque about the tree of knowledge in John Muir College somewhere. If we went to war, the campus population would likely be so apathetic that few would bother to protest; as it is, hardly anybody here is politically active. Maybe, despite my derision of this campus’s apathy in the past, it’s just contentedness with the status quo. I mean, in an ideal world, would politics even exist? Though, one does wonder how we could banish debates on election bylaws and slates and constitutionality from our paradise.

Grass roots organization is the only hope.

And yet, when I’m on campus and I look around, I get the inevitable feeling there’s something wrong with the setting. It is as if you’ve gone to a play and they’ve cast a rather sickly glow of green-yellow on what would otherwise be a beautiful backdrop. Maybe it’s the buildings; the only architectural theme on campus, no doubt, is prefabricated chaos. The problem is neither the fact that it is ugly nor that it is disquieting. The problem is that a campus in transition constantly looks that way; the buildings elicit a sense that everything is temporary and the campus has all the charm of a ’90s office block out in Mira Mesa. The very architecture I learn in reminds me constantly of my ephemeral time at the university. It’s so seeped into my bones that despite the fact I live in paradise, I’m supposed to get booted. Like the way the buildings look, I’m a temporary fixture — and the problem is that so is every other undergraduate here. The only whispers of the past can be found etched into some concrete in Revelle Plaza.

Loving animals is a substitute activity.

The Stuart Collection of art on campus seems to try to rectify all that with perfectly placed repositories of culture scattered across campus. It’s as if we can make up for lack of history, architectural style and substance by cramming as much culture as we can into these pieces and letting them radiate out from opportune locations — let everyone walk under giraffe nets to get to class. The sliding doors to the library that everybody uses is art. Your culture, your uniqueness, is placed in well-positioned places so that you’re stuffed chock full of it when you walk by, and the campus does not have to cater to you for the rest. Jenny Holzer, to whom all the sayings in this article are attributed to, illustrates this beautifully with her “”Green Table”” sitting in Muir. Hundreds of random, profound statements are embedded onto this huge table; it’s as if the very act of passing by it and reading a few will enlighten you.

Pursuing pleasure for the sake of pleasure will ruin you.

And then if you read enough of the “”truisms”” embedded into the table, you realize what the joke is: They’re not profound. They’re pseudo-profound and often contradictory. And yet it still all appeals to you because you can grab nuggets — the ones that suit you best (as I’ve done with my column here) — and quote them to yourself and think that there’s something worthy in them. Maybe, then, it’s quite silly to be melodramatic about the state of this school, its architecture and many of the inanities of life here at UCSD. Maybe the lesson is to take those pseudo-profound realizations, tell yourself to ignore the rest, and realize that what’s “”important”” has little to nothing, or everything, to do with our lives here at UCSD, or the columns I write.