Editor's Note

by Charlie Rafkin | 3/5/15 7:41pm

My editors walk a perilous tightrope when delivering end-of-term feedback. They must sate an impressive — yet wounded — ego’s maddening desire for affirmation. As The Dartmouth’s trusted stewards, though, they must also attempt to squelch, once and for all, the hijinks that have played out in this column for far too long.

Yet even my editors, angels though they are, can err. When they begged me to “please stop writing the Editor’s Note like that,” they failed to realize that their pitiful pleas mean nothing to a man so obstinate and cruel.

For seven Fridays now, I have weathered the stings of paper airplanes, upon which readers have poured out their hatred, slung my direction in lecture halls. I can surely remain cold in the face of knowledgeable editors’ thoughtful appeals.

Still, the end of term does invite reflection. Week one, I was whirling with goals. Could I “delight my readers,” “shock their sensibilities” and “capture a small College’s imagination” with a series of 250-word Notes? Could I simultaneously “embrace tradition” and “push ‘new media’ beyond readers’ wildest dreams” with a weekly print column?

We all know how this story ends. I would end up embracing tradition all right — a tradition of coughing up an uninterpretable screed filled with garble and self-loathing each week.

Three months ago, this campus’s media moguls asked me to rise to the challenge of writing a weekly Editor’s Note. I could only have flailed to the ground — uncoordinated, weeping and alone — faster if you’d had asked me to play limbo.

As I rethink this column’s purpose, you’ll have to settle for an excellent end-of-term Mirror that beckons at nostalgia without succumbing to cloyingness.

Liberal arts colleges inspire enduring and deeply meaningful friendships in the face of an experience fraught with uncertainty. Constructing that sort of home is a differentiated process — indeed, part of the hurt from failing, at first, to find one’s place here stems from the platitudes one internalizes about how people discover home.

Before the term concludes, take a minute to enjoy this Mirror.