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Column: The joys of thought

Hi, I'm Chandra Jacobs and I think. I have done so for most of my post-childhood. I like to think, read, observe and then talk about what I'm thinking, reading and observing. Yes, it is true--I am often known to ponder the unexplained, question the established, and all this outside the workplace or the classroom.

I thought most other people thought in their free time too. Sadly for me, they don't. But moreover, sadly for them. Because thinking is fun--and that's why I'm surprised more people don't do it.

Here's my theory on why America no longer thinks. People within our society simply work too much and then spend the precious few leisure hours they have disengaging their brains to relieve the stress of working too many hours in the week. It's as if our society only makes cultural and intellectual advancement in the confines of the workplace, where workers are motivated to create and sometimes think by the omnipotent dollar. And then, after designing that Pentium 3000 chip, the same brilliant engineer goes home and purposely chooses to neglect his brilliance by engaging in the most unstimulating activities--all in the name of "unwinding."

This is why American "culture" is so lame and why we have the WB. This is why the Ludakris and Mystikal song entitled "Move Bitch" is moving quickly up the top-10 list, and why Britney Spears makes the cover of Rolling Stone. This is also why we have no social-scene on campus. It's not those damn capitalist bastards, it's not a government conspiracy to brainwash us with mind-numbing drivel and it certainly isn't "the man" or the University--it's us.

We're choosing not to think, and by choosing not to think we're choosing dullness. We're keeping our crappy pop culture and unfulfilling campus life in business while simultaneously complaining about it--we sustain it in order to feel successfully distanced from working and thinking. In this way we're hypocrites and responsible for everything we get. Thinking in itself is fun--it's we who arbitrarily relate it to work in the guise of the un-fun. If we thought more, we could create a culture worthy of thought.

As I still have some faith left in the Duke student body, I'll generously assume that we don't think in our free time because we, like the rest of America, don't know it's fun. However, on average we don't work hard (work hard, play hard is just not so true), giving the majority of us ample leisure time to pursue interesting endeavors. In other words, the majority of us have no excuse not to use our brains and be outwardly interesting (I'm pretty sure that some of us are inwardly interesting).

So, I challenge you. I challenge you to try thinking. Maybe not on a Friday night to start with--½that may be too much to ask. But you can definitely sacrifice part of your Thursday night to do a bit of light thinking (it's like lifting weights, you have to start slowly), even if it is before you go out to Chapel Hill, drink and parley with someone of the opposite (or the same) sex.

To start things off, the administration should declare Thursdays as Duke University Thinking Days (DUTD) and have a University- sponsored contest to create a good piece of artwork that best represents thinking and offer a monetary prize. Or, maybe for once, we should just stare conformity and blandness in the face and say "To hell with that, I'm bored here and I'm going to think of a way to change it." Duke life is only a reflection of the boring student body that it contains, and it's time we do something about it.

Chandra Jacobs is a Trinity junior. Her column appears every third Wednesday.


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