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May 16, 2013 - Image 4

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Thursday, May 16, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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Motion ofthe ocean

Is the glass half-full, or half-empty?
All our lives we're haunted with these
perspectival questions that determine
what we can be clas-
sified as: pessimists or
optimists, realists or ide-
alists. These questions
can become especially
prevalent at this time of '
year - finals-are over, it's
the cusp of summer and
we're packing every item PAIGE
we own into boxes, stuff-PFLEGER
ing pillow cases full of _______
socks and the teddy bear
we don't want to admit
we brought to college, and garbage bags with
empty alcohol bottles and notes that we took
so painstakingly in class but are rendered
useless now. It's hard to see ourselves boiled
down to a minivan-trunk-full of boxes and
feel any kind of uplifting optimism, and we
find ourselves asking - is this an ending or is
it another beginning?
Like as the waves make towards the
pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
-William Shakespeare, Sonnet LX
Is this an ending
or is it another
The entire idea of an ending has a certain
inevitability that is hard to escape. All things
must end, our childhood ends when we go off
to college, get our first real job and enter the
real world, exploding outwards like we've just
been thrown from a violently revolving door
and are expected to keep up. As Shakespeare
describes, even something as seemingly end-
less as the ocean experiences an ending when
its waves break on the shore, and we're pretty
minuscule in comparison to all that water.
There are many kinds of endings, my per-
sonal favorite being the ever-elusive "happy
ending". The entire concept of a happy ending
seems to be a paradox in and of itself - if it's
Keep up with columnists, rea
the deb

so happy, it wouldn't end, would it? Wouldn't
I remain infinitely happy forever? I guess if
the Twilight saga has taught us anything it's
that infinity only creates tortured souls, but
it seems to me that a happy ending is indica-
tive of just that - happiness ending. Prince
Charming and the Princess may get married at
the end of the movie, but I'll bet their marriage
isn't all they thought it was cracked up to be.
Then you have the endings that leave you
wanting more, like the feeling you get after
turning the very last page of a good book -
you have a feeling of accomplishment and yet
a small, bothersome yearning has taken root
in your brain like a seedling, and it needs to
be fed more of the story. This is the ending
we can best deal with as humans - it's in our
nature to constantly want more, so it's easy to
suppress this yearning and continue on.
Then comes the kind of ending that we are
most familiar with - the endingthat shatters
your well-being in a way that makes you feel
like it is just that - The End. The end of a
relationship can plunge us in a downward
spiral of unhappiness - and when it comes to
this kind of ending, how can we find any sort
of positive spin? How can we see a beginning
when the most obvious aspect of our lives is
this ending?
The wave that breaks on the shore doesn't
just dissipate into nothing. It collects itself and
rolls back out to sea to become something new,
to begin a new wave that could be even better
thanthe last. There's somethingexcitingabout
an ending that's sometimes difficult to think of
when we are faced with it, and this excitement
is always there - just looming with potential.
Shakespeare reminds us that everything
continues onward, that our lives are full of
this amazing forward motion. In the case of
an endingthis constant forward motion of the
waves to the shore can be harnessed and used
to our advantage. You're moving back home
for the summer? Set goals, reinvent yourself,
take the time to do things you are passion-
ate about and don't dwell on the fact that you
are leaving the beautiful Ann Arbor or living
under your parent's roof. You're experienc-
ing a bad break up? Clearly that person wasn't
right for you, so don't fight it, go with the flow
and see how it carries you to new opportu-
nities. It's important to remember that with
every ending comes a new beginning, and the
only place to go is forward.
-Paige Pfleger can be reached
at pspfleg@umich.edu.

The government gives us plenty
of reasons to complain - see the
113th Congress. Taxes are high,
there aren't enough
jobs and at the rate
tuition is rising, our
debts are going to
take lifetimes to pay
off. The future looks
bright, right?
Yet, if there's one
thing that can be DEREK
agreed upon, it's that WOLFE
our most basic rights
are rarely infringed
upon. Sure, the gun
control and abortion debates loom, but
for the most part, we can do what we
want when we want. In many respects, it
wouldn't be far off to say that many of us
take our freedom for granted - myself
This year - for the first time - I started
to consider the privilege of living under
these circumstances. My roommate, Josh,
was from Korea - yes, he knew who Psy
was before Gangnam Style - and he had
been trying to decide whether to return
to the University in the fall or embark on
his mandatory two-year military service
and return in 2015. Also, two of my friends
decided to voluntarily serve in the Israel
Defense Forces instead of coming to school
in the U.S.
As an outsider to the idea of mandatory
military service - also known as conscrip-
tion - the thought of delaying my edu-
cation and potentially being deployed is
frightening. By no means am I emotionally
stable enough to live thousands of miles
away from my friends and family. Heck,
that's why I chose a school 45 minutes
from my house.
But Josh sees it differently. "I never real-
ly thought about (serving) because if you're
born in Korea as aguy, you have to do it," he
told me in a conversation before leaving. "I
knew (I had to serve) since I was a young
kid, so it didn't really affect my life."
It also became evident while talking
to him how much of a culture difference
existsbetween countries that have manda-
tory service and those that don't. "When I
lived in Korea, I never realized it was such
a big deal. But when I came here and talked
to people about it, they freaked out."
Why is it that most Americans fear serv-
ing in the military and that even though
the U.S. was engaged in two wars for over a

decade, the idea is still so foreign to them?
According to a study by Pew Research,
only half of a percent of the U.S. popula-
tion has served since the beginning of the
Afghanistan war. This has contributed to
an increasingly growing military-civilian
gap with discrepancies between how the
general public and veterans view today's
societal issues. Because so few people
know others who have served, the experi-
ence is unimaginable.
In February, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-
NY) introduced a bill that would require
Many of us take
our freedom for
mandatory military service for all Ameri-
cans. I've always joked with my familythat
if this were ever to happen, I would run
away to Canada since the military is some-
thing I definitely don't want to deal with
especially during my college years.
However, Josh gave me a new perspec-
tive on how meaningful serving in the mil-
itary can be - likening the experience to
taking a gap year that many students take
before undergraduate or graduate school.
"I kind of want to go (to the military)
because I think I need a break from study-
ing and academics. I think it would be a
good opportunity to reflect on my life."
Right now, it appears that Americans
have nothing to fear in regards to a draft.
With the two wars seemingly winding
down, there shouldn't be a need for more
troops. Nonetheless, the conversations
I've had recently with Josh and others
have made me reconsider the value of the
brave men and women who do choose to
serve in the military. Their service has
allowed me to be free without worrying
about being free.
As more veterans return home in the
near future, I've come to realize it's our
duty to acclimate them back into normal
civilian life. Considering the time and
energy they spent serving, it's the least we
can do.
-Derek Wolfe can be reached
at dewolfe umich.edu.

New 'Gatsby'
stays faithful

Luhrmann's latest
film succeeds with
arresting visuals
Daily Arts Writer
In the decade of jazz, at the con-
clusion of the First World War,
when booze was as inexhaustible as
money, America
roared into sud-
den primacy as all
the major world The Great
powers tilted off
their axes. There GatsbY
upon the world At Quality16
stage, all light and and Rave
warm sensibility
beaming down, Warner Bros
the lone figure of
the United States danced and jigged
in celebration.
Baz Luhrmann's "The Great
Gatsby" - based on the novel by F.
Scott Fitzgerald - mirrors the tri-
umphant, if not over-the-top, grace
of America in the roaring '20s. As
the narrator Nick Carraway (Tobey
Maguire, "Spiderman") describes,
"the parties were bigger, the cit-
ies were taller and the liquor was
cheaper." More could be enjoyed at
less expense. Extravagance was just
a way of life. Luhrmann succeeds
in delivering a colorful, explosive
retelling of American grandeur in
the 1920s.
But not all American hearts sang
in jubilation. Jay Gatsby (Leon-
ardo DiCaprio, "Inception") is an
enormously wealthy, mysterious
resident of West Egg. Carraway,
who moves into the ramshackle
house next door, gradually makes
his acquaintance and learns of the
tragic love affair between Gatsby
and Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mul-
ligan, "Drive"), who is Carraway's
cousin. Though Daisy is married
to Tom (Joel Edgerton, "Zero Dark
Thirty") and lives in old-money
East Egg across the bay, Gatsby is
determined to recreate the love
they shared before he went to war.
Every night he wanders to the end
of his dock, stretches out his arms
in undaunted hope and reaches
toward the green light emanating
from Daisy's dock across the water.

Luhrmann's "Gatsby" explores
the darker nature of the times -
the rivalries between old and new
ancy between rich and poor, the
tumultuous and corrosive bonds of
love among the wealthy - and also
of Jay Gatsby himself. Captivatedby
his undying hope to regain Daisy's
love, Gatsby is driven to corruption,
greed and, in the midst of a whirl-
wind affair, even madness.
But with the costumes, set
designs, acting and with Jay-Z's
modern score, the film certainly
pushes the boundaries of extrava-
gance. Jewels bedazzle each shot;
each character's appearance is
almost too vibrant and pristine
and the first third of the movie is
seemingly dedicated to revealing
the extent of the filmmaker's party-
coordinating skill. In fact, when
Carraway reflects on his partying
experience, he feels it necessary to
ask "What's it all for?" as though
the point of the excess is to have no
point at all.
For all the film's shortcomings,
however, credit must be given to
Luhrmann, who does a phenom-
enal job of aligning the script with
the original text. The film begins
and ends with the green light - the
symbolic turning away of old for-
tunes and past loves. Added empha-
sis is placed on Gatsby's origin, as he
embodies the ideal of the American
Dream - a central theme of the
novel. Detail is even placed on the
eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg that lie
quiet in the muck, watching over
the sins and successes of each char-
on the gate of Gatsby's mansion,
in wrought-iron lettering, there is
a Latin inscription: Ad finis fidelis.
Faithful to the end. As the story goes
on and we see that Gatsby would
sacrifice anything for his dream,
we sympathize completely. Even
Nick Carraway, a careful observer
of Gatsby's hope, remains loyal to
his ambition of retelling the story.
And as Carraway reads the last few
lines, we understand that we, too,
byno fault ofour own, are captive to
the dream that calls us. So we beat
on toward the ruddy shore, all light
and sensation suspended, souls for-
ever magnetized to our own green
light awaiting us.

'Vampires' mature with
dark, cohesive album

Senior Arts Editor
To say that Vampire Weekend
has made a career out of prov-
ing people wrong would grossly
understate its
talent. But since A
its divisive 2007
debut, the band Vampire
has done exactly Weeked
that. The image
of four preppy Modern
Ivy Leaguers Vampires of
playing African- the City
inspired pop
music seemed XL
odd (if not
pretentious) to some - others
objected to the band's numerous
eccentricities, from Ezra Koe-
nig's wail and peculiar lyrics to
the airy instrumentation. When
the band responded with Contra,
an even weirder record that took
the criticism of Vampire Weekend
and reveled in it, it seemed com-
fortable as a talented but polariz-
ing band that paid little mind to
As the plaudits pour in for its
latest album, Modern Vampires of
the City, Vampire Weekend has
changed the game again. While
not radically remaking its aes-
thetic, the band has revamped
its sound, delivering its most
mature, complete and unobjec-
tionable record to date.
From the delicate piano chords
on the opening "Obvious Bicycle"
to the wandering guitar on "Han-
nah Hunt" to the percussion-less
finale, "Young Lion," Modern
Vampires witnesses Vampire
Weekend exploring and operat-
ing in the space between instru-
ments. The clutter of "Cousins"
Email arts@

or "California English" is notice-
ably absent; Koenig's voice is far
more inviting, and the underly-
ing restraint comforts against
depressing themes. The mes-
meric "Unbelievers" clothes its
harrowing chorus ("We know the
fire awaits unbelievers / All of the
sinners the same / Girl, you and
I will die unbelievers / Bound to
the tracks of the train") in jovial
harmony and buoyant strum-
ming. It feels remarkably light
for such a heavy song, a feeling
that Vampire Weekend replicates
throughout the album.
Despite its distance from Con-
tra, Modern Vampires undeniably
has Vampire Weekend's finger-
prints on it. There's the witty and
erudite lyricism on the immacu-
late "Step," the processed chant-
ing on "Ya Hey" that would
sound at home on the group's
second album and Koenig's idio-
syncratic wail on "Finger Back."
But Modern Vampires stands out;
it's more approachable than Con-
tra and more interesting than
Vampire Weekend.
The complaints of superfi-
ciality and worries of anxiety
that pervaded Vampire Week-
end's first two albums often felt
impersonal, as if Koenig unob-
trusively watched the fate of his
characters unfurl. On Modern
Vampires, the fear couldn't be
more immediate. Despite the soft
and serene feel to "Step," its final
plea ("I can't do it alone, I can't
do it alone") sounds helpless.
"Don't Lie" captures the fear of
the inevitable through images
of youth over glittering instru-
mentation. And while Koenig has
never been afraid to let his voice
soar, the way he belts the climac-

tic chorus on "Hannah Hunt"pis
among the most intimate, emo-
tive and arresting moments the
band has produced.
Vampire Weekend reveals
most when it's at its most reck-
less. "Diane Young" and "Finger
Back" captivate with relentless
percussion and guitar, and both
provide Koenig's clearest fears
of dying young. Even if the
darker themes are more evident
throughout the album, however,
the band ensures they do not
overwhelm. Modern Vampires
may be darker, but it can hardly
be called a dark record. It excels
precisely because of Vampire
Weekend's ability to apply its
weightless touch to a bleak theme
and come across not as preten-
tious or ironic, but as authentic,
honest and deeply moving.
Superior third
release proves
this group isn't
'Diane Young
Given such a sterling, cohe-
sive album, the vitriolic criti-
cism Vampire Weekend faced
for its debut and Contra seems
less relevant. Perhaps it was
misplaced all along. Whatever
the case, Vampire Weekend isn't
worried about answering crit-
ics - it would rather change the
conversation completely. After
all, as Koenig declares on "Step,"
"Stale conversation deserves but
a breadknife."

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