University is a wonderful incubator of ideas. A 15-minute coffee break in the café can turn into an hour spent chatting about gender theory with that girl who never wears shoes. A quick trip to the uni hall of your chosen drug dealer can turn into a long, long discussion of the idea that – just think about it, man – we are all living inside a computer. The nation's universities are places of experimentation, where kids try on various adult skins to see which one fits. One week you're trying to get into scotch, the next you're attempting to have serious conversations about Kant with a traffic cone on your head.
As graduation draws closer, your weird child-adult hybrid self will be moving on from this comforting cocoon and entering the world of the workforce, where most conversations are about the weather, how you get to and from work and how much you want to quit your job. So, class of 2015, stop for a second of reflection before you traverse the same road of toil as your forefathers and foremothers, and look back at the conversations that you only ever have when you possess the naive confidence and enthusiasm of an undergrad.
The Argument Over Who Is More of an Alcoholic
"OMG I have literally been drunk since Mr OiOi shat himself at our Freshers' week three years ago LOL. I'm officially an alcoholic."
"I'm drunk right now. And I haven't eaten anything this week except for burger noodles. I'm way worse of an alcoholic than you."
"Yeah, but I woke up drunk from last night, then eyeballed a K Cider to get rid of my hangover, then went to my dissertation meeting, and I swear my supervisor had to leave the room because the stench of booze on me was so sickening to him."
"I have been drunk for ELEVEN days."
Once you know someone who has done terrible shit while drinking and gone to rehab and made the AA-mandated apology rounds – or: if you become that person yourself – jokes about alcoholism get a lot less funny. At a certain point, if someone says, "I'm an alcoholic," you go very quiet instead of smirk-bragging about that time you had a few Jägerbombs.
That One About the Nature of Truth
"Er, actually mate, I don't think you can even make that assumption about Godard's quote-unquote artistic intentions, because like how do you know what was going on inside his actual head?"
"Right? Like, what is art, even, until someone interprets it?"
"This couch could be art if I just said, 'Hey, this couch is art.'"
"Oh my God; you're right. As long as people believe you, that counts as art."
"As long as people believe in anything, it's true. That homeless guy who goes round with the horrific fake wound painted on his forearm, asking for money for a taxi to A and E? He's basically more of an artist than Basquiat. What is the world if not, like, a bunch of ideas people had that everyone goes along with?"
"If we all agree something is blue, it's blue, even if no one is seeing the same colour."
"EXACTLY. Like, all words are just these empty signifiers, right? We just fill them in with whatever, our own bullshit..."
This sort of thing is the undergrad-just-took-an-intro-to-philosophy-course-then-did-a-bong-hit version of that thing when three-year-olds ask "why" over and over again.
The "My Parents Put Me Under So Much Pressure" Conversation
"I clearly did the research. I clearly put the works cited page in Harvard referencing, and she still gave me a fucking A minus!"
"Right, but she wrote on the front, 'unclear thesis.'"
"She clearly does not care about consistency in grading. In fact, she's probably sexist against men."
"Uh, OK. Well, I think you're gonna be fine. I'm getting a C minus in this class..."
"Yeah, well you don't know what it's like to have parents with high expectations."
Look, mate: your parents just don't want you to piss the education they're subsidising up the wall of your halls dorm; you're not a fucking child soldier. Full-grown adults aren't dicks to each other about grades, because they have other things they can lord over one another, like marriages, children, jobs and homes.
Your Close Readings of Hollywood Movies
"So, Rocky is obviously an anti-Nietzschian parable, with the strong man being overcome by the weak, but it gets really explicit in Rocky IV, with the blonde superman being knocked down by this avatar of conventional morality. It's slave morality, this notion that the hero is this schmuck who is just this beaten-down nice guy. I mean, come on. Apollo Creed is so obviously the cooler one and the better fighter and just oozes charisma, why aren't we cheering for him? Doesn't he deserve to win? Why are our sympathies always attached to the so-called everyman?"
"Also, Quentin Tarantino movies are racist."
If you haven't realised this yet, here's a spoiler for you: sometimes really fucking talented artistic people just do things based on intuition and 'cos they seem cool, rather than weaving together absurdly intricate meta-plots that secretly turn Pulp Fictioninto a roadmap to the meaning of life.
Any Serious Conversation About Slavoj Žižek
"I like how Bernie Sanders sounds like a total Socialist."
"Mate, did you even read Žižek's The Sublime Object of Ideology?"
"Uh, most of it."
"Then you must know the fundamental theory error in Sanders's assumptions about Marxism."
"Maybe. But could you refresh my memory?"
"Žižek would say his brand of socialism doesn't explain why a commodity can affirm its social character, only the commodity-form of the product."
Slavoj Žižek is a charming, goofy man and, yes, probably the world's most famous Marxist intellectual – but unless you go on to a career in highbrow journals or academia, you'll probably never have to pretend you've read him or know how to pronounce his name again.
Related: Watch our own Alex Miller have a heart-to-heart with Žižek.
The Master Plan for Rebuilding Society/ The Optimism of Youth
"I think I just figured out how to fix political corruption."
"Why is there a government at all? We could vote with our phones, multiple times per day if there were direct democracy."
"Every decision would be in the hands of the people."
"No political parties to abuse, no MP expenses scandals. Government by the masses, for the masses."
"You'd still need some people in charge."
"To like, sign treaties, carry out orders. If people phone-voted to go to war, you'd have to have generals."
"One word, mate: robots."
The only place where this kind of conversation happens outside of college is Silicon Valley, where it happens every day.
The Fantasy About Never Needing to Make Money
"You know what? It may be 3AM, and this mandy may have made me higher than I've ever been in my life..."
"But this, right here? This is truer happiness than you can buy with a fucking credit card."
"Money's a trap, man. It's like Buddhism. A cycle of desire or whatever."
"All you need to do is start your own farm. Just on some abandoned land or whatever. Grow some carrots, lettuce – or fuck, just grow weed – barter for what you need. Hook a generator up to a bike..."
"You can power things with your foot pedals. Occupy did it."
Many people fantasise about building an autonomous growhouse-commune-farm somewhere in the Basque country, or living in a cave in the bit of Ibiza no one goes to, but only a few have enough follow-through to make those plans come to fruition. Soon you'll be buying non-IKEA furniture and things for the kitchen, then eventually a car and other tokens of responsibility. Pretty soon, you'll have a house, and probably kids and before you know it you feel completely justified complaining about how much it costs to put decking in the garden.
How Society Disrespects the Young
"That man in that newsagents only eyed me cause I'm young, you know."
"Yeah, it's total bullshit that we can't get served in that one off-licence without ID, which we have, at home, but we can legally go to war and kill people at 16."
In less than a decade, you will be physically uncomfortable when you realise that the bar you're in is mostly populated by kids in their early twenties on Tinder dates.
Reminiscing About Something and Slowly Realising You Have Done Something Stupid
"Oh man, you were so wasted you went out in flip-flops when it was below zero!"
"I know. And then we found that traffic cone and tried to throw it off the bridge..."
"Yeah. And then you fucked it, man. You fucked the cone."
"Haha! And then we just left it in the middle of the road..."
The One About the Prime Minister Being "Actually Worse than Hitler"
"Voting for Cameron? You would probably vote for a fascist like Farage too, right?"
"He patched up the economy, didn't he?"
"They said the same thing about Hitler!"
You brain is sharpest when you're young and relatively unencumbered, but soon you'll have a job that wears you down to the point of dullness by the evenings. You'll also have seen enough politicians come and go not to get too excited over individual comings and goings. For most media consumers, the Prime Minister just starts to feel like any other TV personality. Pretty soon, you can't seem to muster more emotion about him or her than you can about Shane Richie.
Oh, and you'll start to really like Shane Richie.
This post has been adapted from one that originally appeared on VICE US.
Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.
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