I have a few friends in the band, and one of them once told me about a strange phenomenon. As students, people absolutely hate the band, or at the very least, claim to. However, my friend continued, at Reunions, alumni cannot get enough of the band, as shown by requests for their presence at dozens of alumni events. So what happens? Why the change of heart once students pass through FitzRandolph Gate? Similarly, I love “You Can Call Me Al” when the band plays it at the post-5 p.m. Dean’s Date celebration, yet I too felt a little of that animosity last Saturday morning. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that the mindset you’re in dictates how you are going to view the band, and, through the band, the University.
For most of us, the band does not change. The members always wear their funny jackets, and they always show up and play covers of pop songs. And for most of us, I would argue, the band represents one specific aspect of the University — the University as nostalgia. It is always present at the events that make Princeton Princeton with a capital P: football games, P-Rade, Dean’s Date. It is a Princeton that is not just tests and reading and Bicker and clubs and stress, but rather a Princeton through the widest possible lens.
So it makes sense that we hate the band and love the band depending on our context. When I am studying very hard and stressed out by my work, the band, as the University, is everything that I am angry at, everything that’s making my life difficult, so I mentally implore them to stop playing. When I’m at the P-Rade and I think about all the great things about the University, I love the band, and through it, Princeton.
We should not think of something as complicated as the University as something out there that we simply like or don’t like. Our relationship with Princeton is in part colored, orange or otherwise, by what we bring to the table. I think it is too easy to say that we like something or we hate something without taking into consideration how we are seeing it in the moment, to which aspect of its complicated nature we are currently connecting. There isn’t some magical thing that changes us when we leave Princeton that makes us love it almost unconditionally at Reunions. In our graduated selves is an attitude we had within us the whole time.
I don’t hope, or even think, that my column will compel us to put ourselves in a positive mood so we can love the Princeton around us. My goal here is to show us just how much our context matters in determining whether the band, the ‘Prince,’ the Street or any of the many divergent and strange aspects of this shared experience are wonderful or awful. If we frame it like this, maybe we can approach these things in a more productive way, not as things that are bad or annoying or happy or beautiful, but as mirrors of our own experience. This is not an excuse for any of the actions of these entities, but instead an attempt to bring them closer to us. They are in Princeton as we are in Princeton, we live and die with them.
So we should not confuse our shifting attitudes toward something as complicated as Princeton with caprice or confusion, but rather enjoy the fact that we can, through the complexity of our emotions and states of minds, see and fully experience the many apparently contradictory aspects of something as mysterious as this Orange Bubble.
Luke Massa is a philosophy major from Ridley Park, Pa. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/16/31522/