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My Guilty Pleasure is The Crimson Arts ‘Internal Server Error’

By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Allison J. Scharmann, Crimson Staff Writer

In the sea of midterms, empty Red Bull cans, and broken dreams that is college, one must seek out the simple joys of daily life just to survive. After three semesters of searching, I can confidently say that I have found something that motivates me to get out of bed each morning, and that thing is clicking “Arts” on The Harvard Crimson’s website just to see the words “Internal Server Error” light up my screen.

Don’t take this the wrong way. I love reading Crimson Arts. Who else has the journalistic integrity to weigh in once and for all on the merits of Shrek vs. Shrek 2 or on the fame and female competition behind Cardi B’s shoe toss? It might be Stockholm Syndrome, but I’ve come to see the error message as a true work of Art — one that transcends the capabilities of even our most eloquent, experienced staff writers. Poetic lines like “The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request” and “More information about this error may be available in the server error log” demonstrate literary talent akin to that of a Nobel Laureate.

The message starts off a bit slow — it usually takes between two and 10 minutes to fully load — but it’s well worth the wait. Kazimir Malevich may have had his “Black Square” and Ellsworth Kelly his ”White and Black,“ but neither artist can compare to the stark and unparallelled minimalism of “Internal Server Error.” The contrast of black, serif font on its white background is a clear critique of the capitalist sympathies of more colorful websites. “Server Error” even takes it a step farther, rebelling against the capitalist system by avoiding the market entirely. All you have to do to get a copy for yourself is hit “Print.”

The only possible reason I can come up with to explain how this masterpiece hasn’t already been installed in a special exhibition gallery at MoMA is that it has so far been too elusive for art collectors to get their hands on. To seek it out, one must first weigh the chance of viewing a landmark piece of contemporary art against that of being forced to peruse the product of hours of hard and heartfelt work from a staff of talented and dedicated Arts writers and editors. Previous attempts to obtain “Internal Server Error” have resulted in some of the nation’s most respected collectors, dealers, and art historians doing the unthinkable: actually reading Crimson Arts.

To put an end to this, I have taken it upon myself to volunteer three minutes — that’s right, 180 whole seconds — of my day to preserve “Internal Server Error” for future generations. My self-funded, self-conducted research has made it possible to absorb the captivating beauty of “Server Error” without even the smallest risk of hearing about Banksy's latest antics. If my efforts are successful, no one, including myself, will have to read Crimson Arts ever again!

—Staff writer Allison J. Scharmann is the incoming Music Exec, Arts Comp Director, and Resident Leprechaun of the Arts Board. Some say you can track her down by following the sounds of sad-girl indie rock and crying through the winding hallways of Winthrop House, but to get your wish you must first find and return her Pot o’ Gold — last seen somewhere in the Widener Stacks. Email allison.scharmann@thecrimson.com for hints.

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