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What’s a column, and why didn't you read mine?

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ARMAAN MUMTAZ | SENIOR STAFF

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MAY 02, 2022

I’m disappointed my semester-long run as the arts columnist at The Daily Californian isn’t ending with more intrigue. If there’s an arts opinion that could get me canceled by the UC Berkeley student body, thus ending my time here in scandal — I can’t think of it. 

Maybe this is due to my editors, who spent the semester bravely protecting this paper from costly litigation. My outlandish claims against corporations, high-profile individuals, Christian Kirk, campus organizations and the blueberry bagel mostly went unpublished. My dream to be a primary witness in a corporate trial against a student paper will sadly go unfulfilled. 

I don’t have the numbers, but I think more people should have read my column. In fact, more people should read most of what the arts department publishes. What else are you doing with your time? You’re not too cool for a column. 

Before delving into my feelings surrounding this column’s conclusion, it might be helpful to define what a column is. This isn’t something I bothered to do while writing them. A column is a recurring segment in a newspaper, where the writer shares their opinion. This is an arts column, meaning it is a recurring segment in a newspaper where the writer shares their opinion on art. 

Art feels like one of five categories of things that exist, making this qualifier slightly narrowed, but it’s still broad. I think many of my columns propagated my vision for how art industries should behave, and how people should behave. In this sense, my column was bad propaganda aimed to stop things I find mildly annoying. 

A column is basically talking to one’s self. This is especially the case when few people read it. Trying to be funny in print is an odd feeling because you don’t get immediate feedback from an audience. Once or twice, someone may come up to you with a completely neutral expression and tell you they found your column to be funny, leaving you trying to figure out if they were being sarcastic or not. 

Alas, this is all coming to an end. This particular ending is entwined in other endings. As I leave this column, I’m also graduating. I’m bad at goodbyes. They make me physically nauseous. I tend to linger too long, and I often don’t understand when is an appropriate time to leave and when isn’t. I’m grateful then, that this position had a natural expiration date. 

With endings, I like to think about what specific pieces of an experience I will miss, and how many of those properties I can replicate. It’s easy to get caught up in how one is expected to feel when moving on from something. As I graduate, I’m thinking of all the things I like and don’t like about being an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, as well as having a column. 

At UC Berkeley, I’m sick of the tech bros and people who did so well in high school, a bonafide red flag. I’m exhausted by seeing teenagers. But I’ll miss ignoring people on Sproul, an art I’ve perfected. I’ll miss oversharing during office hours. I’ll miss the campus. Mostly, I’ll miss being in the same context where I met so many people I love. 

I don’t have many grievances about this column, beyond begrudging a typo here or an awkward sentence there. Also, these things take a lot of time away from my weekend, which is when I like to sulk and sit in the sun. If you liked this column, just imagine how great it could have been were it due on a Wednesday. 

I’m not really a hobby person, so it was nice to have something adjacent to a hobby to put on my resume. Even if there were no reward for doing things in life, I would have to do things out of fear of having nothing to say when asked “What do you do in your spare time?” Having a new thing to tell people about myself when they ask has been big for me. 

I’ll try to find ways to replicate the positive elements of all these experiences that are coming to an end. Grievance is something I have caricatured since long before this column. Irritation comes to me naturally, even if I don’t take my own grievances very seriously due to a small semblance of self awareness.  

I’ve always found learning people’s little grievances to be entertaining, a form of intimacy I enjoy. I like learning about the internal rules people use when evaluating people and the world around them. I hope this column made you feel some emotion, any emotion really, even if you weren’t moved enough to cancel me on Twitter.

Ryan McCullough writes the Monday A&E column on exploring the irritations of art. Contact him at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

MAY 02, 2022


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