Arts, Column

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same Right?

There’s a lot to talk about. The St. Louis Cardinals were back in the NLDS, facing off against the arch-rival Cubbies. The Star Wars Battlefront beta was released last week. Netflix has the momentary upper hand in really good films available to stream (Boogie Nights, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Batman Begins, and a bunch more). Ol‘ rascal Matthew McConaughey is back behind the wheel of a Lincoln on the TV, and lookin‘ good doin‘ it. Four of Grantland’s writers/editors left the sports/pop culture site to join old boss Bill Simmons (now at HBO) in an unnamed project. In the immortal voice of my good friend Kenny Chesney, and someone very wise before him, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Those are the pieces I thought about writing this week. How post-season baseball comes for Cardinals fans like the cold weather, until one day it just won’t, and we’ll be left watching the Cubs or Pirates claim the pennant. We could have done a Chris Fuller impression and gone back to common room for a scene of my roommates and I playing Star Wars Battlefront II set against the impending release of the glossier, Disney-er update and how sometimes the old ways are better.

I could have explained how Netflix’s isn’t the beacon of independent streaming content anymore with challengers Hulu, Amazon, and HBO NOW past the doorstep and into the living room. I could talk about how Netflix is returning to its original niche—a place to watch some really good (and really bad), but universally convenient movies.

I’ll be honest, I really just wanted to mention McConaughey, but I could, actually, talk about how during my junior year of high school, my friends and I discovered Grantland in the ESPN web of content, and for a year and then off and on it was one of the best things on the Internet, for 17 to 22-year-old boys, at least. And now, one departing writer/editor at a time, it’s fading away—as I knew it anyway.

These are all pieces I could write—Netflix, McConaughey, etc. And that’s what I’ve sort of done the past year or so, tracing the way media and pop culture shape my life, and working with the hopeful assumption that whatever I’m feeling that week, you feel it, too. And all these pieces would circle back to the same general conclusion—things change, but not really.

For most of the Reasonable Dowd’s run, I’ve been screwing around, sharing my tidy little ideas about how culture works. And the finish line has always been in the picture, like how Frodo can always see Mount Doom rising above dark clouds somewhere up yonder. Basically, I’m using and have always used my time here on The Heights as a metaphor for my time here at Boston College, which I also often use as a metaphor for life in general and that’s when “metaphor” sort of crumbles under the weight of “life” and you wonder if you’re just writing some mumbo jumbo on a Google doc.

I’m halfway through my second semester at the helm. Well, I’m not really commanding the helm, more like the officer in charge of the left wing of a ship. The metaphorical ship (The Heights) is a spaceship, obviously, though sometimes it feels like we’re on one big life boat, and we’re like, “Where’s Rose?” And she’s gone. And we’re sinking, and then we wake up and climb aboard the spaceship to make another paper. But one day, sooner than it feels right now, there won’t be a paper to make, for me at least. And that’s scary, and exciting, but mostly scary.  

But back to Netflix, the Cardinals, and “the more things stay the same,” when you start running through these cycles of sustained experience, your fear of the end of starts to loom a little less. And I could channel McConaughey’s “time is a flat circle” speech from the good season of True Detective and that wonderful mumbo jumbo, “Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.” And Rust Cohle’s speech there (via Nick Pizzolatto, via Nietzsche) is a comforting form of detachment on the surface. All endings just lead to beginnings over and over again. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But I don’t think that’s entirely fair to endings. Sure, I’ll eventually find a new Heights, a new thing to throw my free time into, but I don’t want to take power from endings—we should give power to them. Good things end, and that is, ultimately, a good thing.

Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphics


October 14, 2015