The Far Side
But somehow, he still manages to lead the world’s fiercest ensemble of superheroes—the Justice League. Judgements of its cinematic quality aside, the new Justice League movie illustrates this point. Batman heads the ship of super-aliens, cyborgs, mythic gods, and Amazon warriors, not because he’s the most powerful hero, but because he knows how to bring together—and keep together—the right people. He uses his strength of mind and character to recruit experts, and he knows his teammates well enough to delegate unpredictable problems to each person according to his or her expertise. Batman makes sure the right people punch the right meteors, and the world gets saved.
Geertz described his findings in the famous essay, “Deep play: notes on the Balinese cockfight.” At these male-only events, broken beaks and bloody feathers flew, onlookers made complex wagers, and kinship ties and social prestige and manly dignity were ripped and clawed along with the cocks in the ring. A participant-observer in the ordered chaos, Geertz famously read the cockfight as a cultural text—a representation of Balinese culture.
As new policies relativize Harvard space and Harvard Time—with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’s move to Allston in 2020 and the new class schedule slated for next fall—students protesting these changes could use this tip from the man who first coined the idea of space-time in 1905.
“In Memory of Wainwright Merrill, Class of 1919. Born at Cambridge, May 26, 1898; Killed at Ypres, November 6, 1917.”
No one, that is, except Harvard. In her recent op-ed, University President Drew G. Faust denounced the “shadow social environment” created by the College’s “discriminatory and exclusionary organizations” such as final clubs, fraternities, and sororities. The Crimson Editorial Board recently joined Faust in this stand against exclusivity, arguing that such groups perpetrate “outdated notions of elitism, classism, and exclusivity on campus.” These arguments, gleaming in the heroic rhetoric of inclusivity, try to pit Harvard the Hero of Time against his evil enemy, Shadow Social Environment. But no matter how loudly we claim to stand against exclusivity, the truth is that Harvard’s undergraduate culture is still pervaded by it. The administration’s social group-banning sword strikes and community-promoting spin moves are bound to fail—because the exclusive shadow Harvard is fighting against is really itself.