When Worlds Collide

It’s been my experience that the only way to get through grad school is to find an outlet. Not a “play frisbee on the weekends” kind of thing, but a world that you can escape to for at least a couple hours a day. My dealer is Netflix and my current drug of choice is Felicity; hence yesterday’s rant about Noel and Ben. The whole point of this parallel universe is to leave the daily grind and let one’s mind happily turn to mush, where the biggest topics up for discussion center on the aforementioned love triangle.

But every now and then, something so strange happens you swear the Russians are spying on you. Or at least, pop culture has finally imploded and everything is simultaneously everything.

Exhibit A: A two-episode arc in season four of Felicity involves Keri Russell cheating. She needs to write a 30-page paper in one night when her roommate suggests taking a dissertation from the library and copying from it. After all, her logic goes, no one reads it. Did I mention this was an art history dissertation? Is someone speaking to me from Felicity-land, urging me to either forgo embarking on my dissertation since some loser undergrad will inevitably copy it; or, that I should stop watching this show, quit procrastinating, and get on with my dissertation work? I don’t mind a little art history sprinkled into my entertainment: I’m eternally grateful for the Thomas Crown Affair remake that brought sexy back to my discipline. I just don’t want it showing up unexpectedly and dismissively, like the token subject that is so obsolete that leather-bound dissertations are caked in dust, thus copyright doesn’t matter.

Exhibit B: Theory in my podcast. I’ve been a zealous fan of Slate’s Culture Gabfest for over fours years. It’s one of the highlights of my week and another bastion of escape where I can let my mind go to mush. But tonight, there was no chance for mush. Of all the topics to discuss, the legacy of literary theory was on the queue: 13:46—25:51. And I just happened to listen to it after my three-hour poststructuralism seminar, where Lacan was up on our playlist. But in the end it wasn’t so bad. Stephen, Dana, and Julia provided some much needed comic relief and I learned that Dana’s thesis adviser at UC Berkeley was none other than Judith Butler. My world has imploded. Good night.

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