High School Prom meets Hogwarts or ORIGINALISM’s AMBIGUITY

A couple of weeks ago came the moment for which every admirer of American popular culture, every avid watcher of American Pie, had been waiting throughout the year: The YLS Prom Dance.

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It was a curious event: Despite being held in the mighty pseudo-gothic halls of the Yale Commons, the party couldn’t quite shake off its high school-ish origins. This was all the more surprising, given that the music, supported by relentless bass line, most insistently urged the Hogwartesque walls to swiftly “shake it off”. The walls, however, unforgivingly remained unmoved and preserved the entertaining contrast to their high school-ish surroundings.

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Not only the music, but most other items (photo booth, decoration, plastic cups, prom royal couple) matched the ideal type of a high school prom.

(It seems as if life at YLS is so busy that no one can afford to devote any time to develop a more sophisticated and somewhat articulate taste in music. Instead, the evening’s playlist was indistinguishable from the kind of music that would be fueling an actual high school prom. Over distinguishing cases we seem to have lost the sense for distinguished music. Being the most avid admirer of Taylor Swift I, of course, have nothing to complain about. However, it deserves to be noticed that Yale’s ORIGINALISM is shamefully lacking with regard to musical taste. This may have to do with YLS’s party culture to be, by European standards, overall rather poorly developed (see Yale WATERGATE). This holds true despite the many and considerable efforts that our LLM class has heroically invested into establishing the BRAZILIAN PALACE (the humble temporary home of our two Brazilian LLMs) as the city’s prime party location.

An alternative, more optimistic, take on the issue would, of course, be to claim that high-school-prom-styled music must be understood as being even more ORIGINAL than any more distinguished playlist could ever hope to be. For, such high-school-styled music would naturally be in a more undeveloped, more embryonic, and thus more ORIGINAL state. According to this standard of ORIGINALISM the most ORIGINAL sound of them all would be the very charming initial cries of a baby after it leaves the womb. If YLS is, as it tends to be, at the avant-garde of things, we thus have reached a promising hypothesis as to where pop music will be heading in the years and decades to come. This standard of ORIGINALITY would moreover lend itself very well to being most beneficially applied to the papers that exhausted LLMs still have to write at the end of this second semester. After ten months of MEERCATINESS there is little energy left for thoughtfulness and sophistication. I therefore most humbly propose that for grading purposes “maximal proximity to embryonic states of development” be defined as the official measure of what it means to have an ORIGINAL IDEA. This would have the added benefit of bringing the YLS interpretation of ORIGINALISM back into tune with its interpretation by leading ORIGINALISTS in the politico-legal arena.

DESPERATION through TRANSFORMATION

Reading this blog, it may not come as a surprise to you that Yale Law School and its style exert an almost irresistible gravitational pull. The pressure to assimilate seems insurmountable. While in the beginning of my blog career I contended myself with writing about such (helpful, but) trivialities as how to travel here and where to have drinks, Yale’s ORIGINALISM has perverted my blog into a decreasingly decipherable and increasingly absurd array of self-reference and insider hints. (Do you get the title? Or is it a book “signatum sigillis septem” to you?) Anything short of the absurdity of piece-of-cake-ratios or Kafka’s CASTLE will simply no longer do for me as a freshly initiated and originality-obsessed inhabitant of The Yale Law School.

I just recently learned that the proper way of making re(v/f)erence to YLS is by adding a “the” before “Yale Law School” in order to convey that it isn’t just Yale Law School but the one and only Yale Law School that you’re talking about. This reminds me of a strange habit of southern Germans: They usually refer to their friends or to their parents by adding a “the” to their respective names (as in “der Josef”) or functions (as in “die Mama”). Apparently Bavarians (to whom I must confess I belong) are so self-centered that they want to make crystal clear that, while others might think they have a mother (Mama), they do not actually have one, since the one and only mother (“die Mama”) is, in fact, already claimed by the speaker (and his or her siblings).

Therefore: Be greeted, Yalies, Bavarians of America!

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(Can you tell the difference?)

But let’s get back on track: I was talking about the inherent and irresistible pressure to assimilate, which is exerted by The Yale Law School, its institutions, and customs. One of these TRANSFORMATIONS through assimilation has thrown me into deep DESPERATION: The LLMs are slowly but inevitably turning into American JDs. We have become utterly JDiced.

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(Recently they have even changed the menu at The Yale Law School’s dining hall. They now are serving “(J)diced LLM in its own jus”.)

One piece of evidence that perfectly corroborates this claim is the character of conversation in the graduate student’s own Whatsapp thread: What had been a place of swift and uncomplicated coordination, party invitations, innocent flirtations, and serious conversations now largely resembles THE WALL. Where Indians and Belgians happily exchanged their mutual and preposterous PREJUDICE, we’re now trading in niceties. Where discussions were had, community is built by inclusion through exclusion by declaration. While the content of the Whatsapp thread is manifold, its form is but one: Benevolent (in this regard we’re not fully (J)diced yet) WALL WARS.

One such conversation concerned the issue of voting for a faculty member to deliver the speech at The Yale Law School’s graduation ceremony. Shamefully excluded from the original nominating procedures, the LLM’s plotted to coordinate in order to rally behind one common candidate. Powered by hurt feelings, we engaged into the very identity politics (us LLMs vs. those evil JDs) we had been able to learn through the WALL over the course of the year. Being the nerds and avid learners that we are, we were perfectly fluent in whipping, rigging, and goading the vote of all LLMs into conformity.

What does this mean?

We’ve lost our innocence.

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(Two LLM students covering themselves after having tasted from THE WALL.)

TRANSFORMATION drove us out of Eden into DESPERATION.