As we wind down toward December, this year’s fraternity-death totals are coming in, and they’re – as usual – awesome. Nothing kills eighteen year old American men in search of friendship and a college education faster than a night with the Sweethearts of Sigma Chi, professional sadists who have, over the long storied years of their chapter, perfected the art of murder by forced alcohol intake. Nothing bonds brothers like working together over many hours to make sure someone who’d like to join their club chokes to death on his vomit – unless it’s the scary manslaughter case that follows, a shared experience of adversity that brings together the boys, their adoring parents, and their supportive community, in another one of life’s tests of blood loyalty and the Greek way.

After a century packed with dead pledges, everyone agrees there’s not really anything our country can do about the Geertzian “deep play” of massive insane drunken football staging area universities like Penn State as they stagger from serial child rapist coaches, to post-game riots, to jock-on-jock homicide in the frat houses. The whole wild synergy put Penn State’s last president in jail, but this seems to have been viewed as the ultimate test of the school’s commitment to destroying the life of everyone who studies or works there without regard to status.

There are scads of universities like Penn State. There are scads of universities that make Penn State their role model.

*************

Because the blood and the violence in these football/frat cultures are beautiful. Remember what Professor Murray Siskind, a character in White Noise who teaches a seminar on car crashes in the movies, says about these ever more violent collisions. He is talking to one of his colleagues.

“All that blood and glass, that screeching rubber. What about the sheer waste, the sense of a civilization in a state of decay?”

… “I tell [my students] it’s not decay they are seeing but innocence. The movie breaks away from complicated human passions to show us something elemental, something fiery and loud and head-on. It’s a conservative wish-fulfillment, a yearning for naivete. We want to be artless again. We want to reverse the flow of experience, of worldliness and its responsibilities. My students say, ‘Look at the crushed bodies, the severed limbs. What kind of innocence is this?'”

“What do you say to that?”

“I tell them they can’t think of a car crash in a movie as a violent act. It’s a celebration. A reaffirmation of traditional values and beliefs. I connect car crashes to holidays like Thanksgiving and the Fourth. We don’t mourn the dead or rejoice in miracles. These are days of secular optimism, of self-celebration. We will improve, prosper, perfect ourselves. Watch any car crash in any American movie. It is a high-spirited moment like old-fashioned stunt flying, walking on wings. The people who stage these crashes are able to capture a lightheartedness, a carefree enjoyment that car crashes in foreign movies can never approach.”

“Look past the violence.”

“Exactly. Look past the violence, Jack. There is a wonderful brimming spirit of innocence and fun.”

Look past the teenager on life-support to the high-spirited innocent fun of the postmodern American campus, where advances in recording technology and a booming liquor industry promise Americans years of morbid viewing pleasure.

***************

For those who consider this a “problem,” which must be “solved,” UD says: Wisconsin. Concentrate the behavior in one state. Designate one American state whose universities may, with impunity, pick off their freshman males.

Why Wisconsin? It is well-located, right in the middle of the country, for ease of access. The state has a long glorious tradition of drunkenness, and is full of jock-centric state university campuses. All universities outside of Wisconsin would shutter their Greek houses, and they would make life so difficult for the remaining illegal off-campus fraternities that the lure of Wisconsin would become irresistible.

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2 Responses to “Wisconsin Death Trip”

  1. dmf Says:

    https://the1a.org/shows/2017-11-15/how-to-stop-hazing

  2. dmf Says:

    http://harvardpress.typepad.com/hup_publicity/2013/05/who-pays-the-price-for-the-college-party-scene.html

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