The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 23, 1999, Page 5, Image 5

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    Age-old dilemma
When drinking binges get tough, tough get out of town
A.L. FORKNER is a junior
news-editorial major and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist
I’ll miss you, UNL. I’ll miss the
lack of parking, the mind-numbing
required classes that have nothing to
do with copy editing, and the fees up
the wazoo.
I’ll miss you most of all, scare
It finally happened. I’ve snapped.
Now, there is nothing left for me to
do but move off to the mountains and
take up the life of a hermit.
Oh, don’t cry for me, U
Nebraska. You know I’ll always love
Buck up, little campers, we all
knew this day would come. And now
that it has, I had a simple choice -
Dirty Old Man Hermit, or Gun
Wielding Postal Lunatic.
Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy
choice. But after consulting my
Magic 8-Ball, I decided for the reclu
sive life.
Why would I drop everything and
head off to a shanty on a mountain
Mainly, another birthday.
As Garth Brooks said, “I’m much
too young to feel this damn old.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an
old man by any stretch of the imagi
nation. I realize that.
Sure, my ankles snap like a bal
sam-wood floor at Roseanne’s house.
Yeah, my back aches if I don’t get
enough sleep. Or, for that matter, if I
get too much.
Maybe I don’t get much of the
music the kids are bippin’ and a bop
pin’ to these days.
(Seriously, if you can explain
Marilyn Manson to me ... Well,
don’t, OK?)
It all hit me when I woke up with
a hangover last Friday.
Aside from die fact that it’s a
lousy way to wake up on your birth
day, it made me feel old.
Old, because I was hung over in
the first place. Honest, Mom, I didn’t
drink that much.
I remember a time when my
! friends and I used to “party like
rock stars.”
We called ourselves Team
quite sorry for
myself, I called
up the T.O.K.
guys on Friday.
“Hey, what’s
goin’ on, Jay?”
“Man, we burned
ourselves out last
night. I can’t do this
more than one day in
a row anymore,
man. My liver
hurts. \
Realize, for a T.O.K. V
member to admit party ^
defeat is like UNL decid
ing that tuition is just too Vs\vj
doggone high. \
In other words, it was \
something I never thought I’d \
(hear. \
After two days of a* >
restlessness, extra
shifts and being alone,
I finally snapped. RI
It’s not that big of Uj
a deal, really.
I’ve always
planned on becom- —*
ing a dirty old man
and living like a
recluse, backpack
ing down to the
general store and
buying a month’s
worth of sup
plies from a
guy named
Clem. \ ;
I’ve always
dreamed of
chasing the y/
tourists off my
property with a
I Of course, I’m gonna have to
buy me a mean dog. He’ll have to
hate everyone but me and lie
Amy Martin/DN „
Should I
continue my
> 1 pursuit of a
^ degree that
I’ll never
obtain, because I
can’t remember if
it’s der
Badezimmer or die
(VQ Don’t think so.
Should I
keep on suckin’
■\ in the gut in a vain
T attempt to woo a member of
- the opposite sex that I’m
actually interested in?
Should I maintain my
upbeat and happy-go-lucky
facade so people don’t run
and hide when I show up?
• Good luck.
I If So, as we can see, there
; ' really is no alternative. I gots to
I get out of Dodge.
I need a release.
The city batting cages aren’t open
yet. It’s too dam cold for the driving
Working out? Where, the rec cen
Ha! If you’re not already ripped,
^ you’re basically a leper at that
meat market.
Thanks, but I feel low enough
already without being forced to
watch the pretty guys and handsome
What about a vacation, you may
Sure, that s the answer. Nothing
like leaving town for a week, getting
behind in my classes, spending
money I don’t have and returning to a
desk foil of mindless dreck that any
one else could’ve done but didn’t!
Ooh, ooh, where do I sign up for
that? Can I get kicked in the groin
while I wait, please?
But, I digress.
Fear not, it won’t be that bad.
Since I’m paid up for the semester,
the university considers me to be a
foil-time student. So I’ll continue to
send my columns in via carrier
I dunno, maybe the mountain air
will let me clear my head and get a
grasp on things - put things into per
spective, if you will.
Maybe I’ll figure out if it’s all
worthwhile, you know, that magical
link between money and happiness.
Then again, maybe I’ll be quite
content living off road kill and selling
the squished pelts.
Hey, at least the animal rights
people won’t complain too loudly.
I don’t know.
That’s my main malfunction right
now. I just don’t know.
I don’t know why I’m restless and
tense all the time.
I don’t even know what I don’t
You know?
International identity
University culture trades in currency of other nations9 knowledge, research
assistant professor in the
English department
One of the most wonderful things
about a university such as ours is its
international, as well as regional and
national, identity. In addition to the
members of various ethnic groups in
the United States, citizens of many
nations of the world are represented
by the students, staff and faculty here.
People from other countries make
contributions to the university
through their intellectual and profes
sional abilities, and they also give us
a marvelous opportunity to experi
ence the many differences and simi
ianties among nations and cultures.
Sitting down to a cup of coffee
and some conversation with someone
from another country can be a
rewarding experience. If you meet,
say, an international student and are
curious about his or her national cul
ture, do not feel shy about asking him
or her questions. I am from England,
and I welcome any opportunity to
talk about the virtues of rugby, crick
et and mushy peas.
The international character of a
university extends far beyond the dif
ferent nationalities represented on
caihpiis’ The knowledge we work
with is largely of an international, or
“universal,” character.
We hear a lot these days about
how the Internet and other develop
ments in information technology are
creating a new global village of
shared information, but these new
trends are not so different from the
ways that universities have always
worked. Just as Near Eastern mathe
matics and geometry were important
elements of the curriculum in die
medieval universities of Europe, so
too our own university might draw on
developments in Korean engineering,
Finnish architecture, South African
microbiology or French literary criti
Of course, much of the knowl
edge we use has been produced in the
United States, but I would bet that
there are few- if any-breakthroughs
in academic knowledge that do not
owe something to previous research
from other parts of the world. The
difference between the Internet and
the university is drat the former pro
vides information, while the latter
produces knowledge. Information
and knowledge may seem to be die
same thing. No, knowledge includes
analysis, idea formulation, historical
perspectives, narrative structures and
Emphasizing the international
character of knowledge does not lead
to a loss of local identity. Thinking
about how the knowledge we gain in
the classes we attend is of a shared,
global nature encourages us to con
sider how our own national and
regional identity as a unique blend of
two things: our own efforts and those
of preceding generations, and how
we’ve used international knowledge.
It is difficult to understand and cele
brate the features of our own geo
graphical and cultural identity if we
have no conception of how this has
been formed in relation to knowledge
produced in other parts of the world.
By denying the impact the world
has on us, we impoverish our under
standing of ourselves and our impact
on the rest of die world. In the univer
sity, die dichotomy between either
learning about ourselves or learning
about other nations and cultures is a
false one. Going to another country
and observing people’s habits of din
ing or conversation is a great way to
enhance our appreciation of our own
ways of life.
Similarly, we should not feel
threatened or lessened by the realiza
tion that the educational process we
are taking part in is profoundly inter
national. Instead, this realization
should give us a stronger sense of our
own regional identity by helping us to
understand how our identity is, to
some degree, a matter of our own
way of working with international
knowledge. Looking at ourselves in
relation to the rest of the world
undoubtedly requires courage,
•because this may make us feel self
conscious and wish to isolate our
selves from people whom we think
are different. But we must have the
strength to confront the true nature of
knowledge if we are to frilly compre
hend who we are.
Some of you might be surprised
to hear an English teacher speaking
highly of knowledge. It is true that in
many English and other humanities
departments throughout the country,
it is currently unfashionable to speak
of facts and knowledge.
As in Charles Dickens’ “Hard
Times,” facts are often thought of as
terrifying weapons used by sadistic
schoolmasters to bludgeon their stu
dents into silence and submission.
While there are many convincing
reasons to have these views, shifting
our focus from facts can entail a
betrayal of the mission of education.
When I was a student, finding out
about, say, the history of the canals in
England was a source of great excite
ment to me. Perhaps more important
ly, learning these things was a-mar-' •
velous way of helping me to gain per
spective on whatever personal con
cerns I might have had. I do not think
of this as escapism but as a way of
strengthening myself through knowl
edge. Becoming stronger in this way
helps one deal calmly and effectively
with other areas of life. I would not
like to think I was discouraging my
own students from experiencing the
joys and benefits of objective knowl
The abandonment of knowledge
as the goal of education has created
an anti-intellectual void that has been
filled by the language of job training
and consumerism. This is extremely
unfortunate, because students are nei
ther job trainees nor consumers - stu
dents are students! Abandoning the
. pursuit of knowledge also has the
effect of making us all more vulnera
ble to accepting die vision of our own
identity provided for us by media
sound bites.
By recognizing and celebrating
the international knowledge that is
the true currency of our university,
we foster a sense of our own local
identity that does justice to the rich
ness of our traditions. We deepen our
sense of how our experiences are
shared by other nations. We preserve
the integrity of the meaning of educa