alcohol glasses

Columnist Parth Shiralkar narrates the value of life. 

When considering some of the gloomier philosophical schools of thought, one doesn’t immediately tend to think of raucous partying and fun. But the concept of a late-night romp isn’t very far from the nearest watering hole. As an example, the excellent tragicomedy movie “In Bruges” is an absurd narrative that takes place almost entirely in the vicinity of rustic Belgian pubs — not that the plot has anything to do with that, but the uplifting feel of partying is juxtaposed very nicely. Note that this column is not a call of invitation to go partying but a reflection on our relationship with socializing in a lighter environment.

Existentialism is typically known as one of the less cheerful outlooks of existence because of its focus of pondering the abject meaninglessness of life. However, existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, both acclaimed existentialists of their time, were ardent party-goers at their polygamous relationship’s peak. France is known for its flamboyant ambience, the exciting nightlife that we read about even today, which both de Beauvoir and Sartre were known to partake in frequently.

It has been over a year since I stepped foot onto the sticky-wet flooring of any of the esteemed establishments down Welch Avenue in Ames. These places are not much different to those Parisian discotheques in that they offer an avenue, a shared space in which to let loose. It is but inevitable that these places will see a rapid rise in foot traffic over Finals Week, especially since it’s much safer to venture out now than it was a couple semesters ago.

Absurdist Albert Camus, contemporary philosopher and acquaintance of the existentialists, would also engage in the wartime celebrations of Sartre and de Beauvoir. Sartre himself, who has said that “Hell is other people,” liked to party hard and effectively have convoluted ideas, which would then fall apart after the intoxicants had worn off. These philosophers frowned down upon the seriousness of life, instead embracing these moments of rebellion while the rest of their lives were spent in anxiety.

There’s a reason “Friday After Class” is such a popular thing, and — even through the pandemic — we’ve seen people thronging to those few hours of hanging out with strangers in a structure that isn’t restricted. Singing, dancing, making friends on the fly — heck, about three-fourths of all my Snapchat friends are people I met at the bars. With the widespread vaccinations going on, I think we’ll have way more people going out over summer.

But in many cases, balance is crucial — partying all-out every day will only take away the refreshing nature of these social gatherings. Relying on these outings as a form of total escapism is in bad faith; instead, one should vigilantly strengthen their self-reliance and carefully strike a balance between accepting the utter seriousness of life and also challenging its notions.

In quarantine, having a tiny but safe social bubble in which to engage in such gatherings has helped my mental health immensely. As the existential motto goes, the meaning of life is a faraway dream that’s way too exhausting to chase 24/7, so why not groggily launch a frisbee at a grill right now? As the battle against COVID-19 seems winnable in the near future, we must appreciate being in the presence of others, pushing back against the despair through a shared sense of ecstasy. Stay hydrated.

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Columnist Parth Shiralkar is pursuing a master's degree in information systems and a minor in philosophy. 

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(1) comment

Seymour Trout

Your social life is an important part of your college education. Most of your success will come from your interactions with people. You need to get good at that. People are more likely to help you if you're congenial. Everyone needs help to succeed. Success is based on collaboration.

When you graduated from high school, you started a ten year countdown to get a spouse. All your best choices will be married by thirty. Marrying is like cutting a diamond. If you do it right, it's pure bliss. Do it wrong and you're in the hell of divorce court and joint custody. The way to get the experience to choose wisely is to go on a lot of dates.

Dates are like short trial marriages where you learn how to relate to the opposite gender. You should go on a lot of them to get the experience you need. Make all your relationship mistakes in college where they can do you little damage. Once you graduate, you can embark on the serious quest to find your mate. Set a goal of going out on fifty dates with fifty different people. If you don't find a mate by the fiftieth date, there's probably something wrong with you. Maybe you're too picky. Don't let the Perfect by the enemy of the Good.

Keep it casual as a freshman. Don’t have sex your first year in college. College is an overwhelming experience for most freshmen, full of challenges. Sex amplifies the drama and makes everyone crazy. You can pile up a perfect storm of problems that will do you in. Take that first year to learn how college works and to confirm you can succeed at it. Wait until the second year for physical intimacy when you can handle it better.

Be marriage-minded. If you are going with someone that you know you will never marry, dump them and move on. If you stay with an unsuitable person because you think you can never do better, it will not turn out well. Don't stay stuck on stupid. If you don't get your heart broken at least once in college, you are not trying hard enough.

I recommend you marry by 28. Your brain is still forming its neural net until then. The closer you get to 28, the morely likely your marriage will endure because you are marrying with a fully formed brain. Marry earlier than that and your brain is half baked, your judgement immature, the more stupid fights you'll have with your spouse over nonsense, which lead to divorce.

You should consider your social life as a subject that you are minoring in. Start with the basics. You should say hello and smile at people. You should learn how to introduce yourself to strangers and chitchat. You should learn to look people in the eye and listen to them intently instead of talking over them. You should learn to remember people's names and a few important facts about them. You'll probably crash and burn dozens of times before you get the hang of it, but stick with it. You'll be glad you did.

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