I‘ve told very few people this before: On Sept. 10, 2001, I was considering the abandonment of this column. It’s a weird, pathetic, desperate little nugget of information, but my final column is as good a place to share it as any. It’s the kind of thing that lingers – an aftertaste – in every column I have written since. I sometimes feel as exploitive and opportunistic as the politicians and media I deride.
It was late summer – school was just underway – and I was a junior, preparing for a semester of 18 credits and increasing responsibilities on this newspaper’s sports staff. Writing a column every other week on the thriftiness of Jimmy John’s or the moral applications of “The Big Lebowski” to campus aesthetics hardly seemed worth the effort. Fuck it, I thought. I had written for two years and, whatever, it was fun.
Once in a blue moon my celebrity preceded me, and at parties I met cute freshmen girls who had perambulated over my smiling face every Tuesday and Thursday when they walked into their psychology lecture. “Oh, um … Do you write a column for the Daily?” With my best keg-party chic, I tried to turn that innocent question into legitimate flirtation, but I found little success.
So “Hornography” wasn’t producing the hordes of groupies I had anticipated, and my well of subject matter had run completely dry.
Then, literally within a few days of my consideration to quit “Hornography” came what will prove to be the defining event of our ever-shaping generation. I wrote a column that ran on Sept. 13 and pissed off a lot of people. There were also many who expressed their similar-mindedness, and thanked me for what I had written. There was conflict. I was generating discourse. Game on.
Here’s the point of this sprawling, desperate, masturbatory reflection: My life, and my priorities, were completely reshaped by Sept. 11. Duh? Duh. But bear with me. In the last two years I have found the drug of bi-weekly columnist to be intoxicating. I was awarded a platform my freshman year, and it took a shock of lightning halfway through to get me dancing on it. Readers – students, professors, alumni, Lynne Cheney – responded to what I said and I became a full participator in something … something bordering on the fringes of democracy, and carrying the weight of vital political and social discourse.
This drug is amazing and I don’t want to give it up. I have had the privilege of participating in the affairs of this campus community, this state, this nation and this world in such a unique and rewarding way, and I will shortly find myself in withdrawal when the platform is taken from under my legs. I encourage everyone reading this – especially underclassmen, but everyone – to find a way to do the same. It doesn’t have to be a column in the Daily. It happens in political and social organizations. It happens in the classroom or in the laboratory. It can happen in your dorm room, with your circle of friends.
The drug is raising your voice and being heard. I’m addicted and you’ve got to get yourself some of it. There is an expression in Hebrew, “Tikkun olam,” which means, “Repair the world.” For the last couple of years I have been able to say that, at worst, I was doing my part to repair the world every two weeks. College in general, and the University of Michigan in particular, is the place to find your voice, and begin a process of community participation that has unlimited potential.
Thank you Emily Achenbaum, for giving an ambitious freshman with a bad sense of humor, bad ideas and bad prose a platform on this editorial page. And thank you to Mike Grass, Nick Woomer, Johanna Hanink, Aubrey Henretty and Zac Peskowitz for sustaining it. You guys have given me an opportunity for the most unanticipated and wonderful kind of personal growth. I hope, and like to think, that “Hornography” has been a worthwhile use of this page’s precious space.
To everyone else – thank you for reading and participating in this process with me. See what you can do about finding your platform, your drug, your voice. If it turns out to be half as rewarding as this has been for me, I promise that your college years will be a success.
Horn can be reached at email@example.com.