Omnium Gatherum

Jacob Akey, Crier Staff

I’d never seen a Kennedy in person before, only pictures. They’re exotic creatures, delicate too. My Kennedy encounter was with RFK Jr. His father, Sr., is seeing something of a reputational renaissance- he neither deflowered a White House intern on the first lady’s bed nor left a young woman to slowly drown; high marks for the family. My Kennedy, the younger but not very young RFK Jr., is a master trafficker of patrilineal nostalgia. One of his many books is subtitled “Lessons I Learned from My Family.” He gave attendees to his pre-campaign speech signed copies. It isn’t quite Michael Bloomberg’s iPads, but I appreciated the gesture. At the speech, he spoke. It was phenomenal; Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the greatest political talent I have seen perform at NHIOP. Whatever family magic allowed those people to claw their way into the American soul is very much still alive. When RFK Jr. spoke about fighting for the little guy, I believed him. As he struggled through a rather conspicuous speech impediment, I rooted for his voice to win out. It did. And when Kennedy spoke of the diversely American crowds that he witnessed as he rode the funerary train carrying his father’s body, I was moved. RFK Jr. is a heroic man who would be president if only he were not a conspiracy nut.

The coolest book in Geisel is Liber Novus. The torso-sized book, also known as The Red Book, is a reproduction of a project by psychiatric giant Carl Gustav Jung. The Jung estate protected the original until 2009 when they released a facsimile edition. It is this edition that resides in Geisel Library. The book is “cool” because of its scale and form. Despite clocking in at under 400 pages, the book is given heft by its PC-monitor-sized pages and girth by the quality of the paper. Its form is unique in that the reflection on psychoanalysis is written in calligraphy with illustrations aping an illuminated manuscript. Given the turbulent mental state of Jung when it was written, and the kaleidoscopic vision within its pages, I am reminded of Codex Gigas. If you are interested in gawking at Liber Novus (as I do when I’m procrastinating), it’s on display on the library’s top floor.

What is a band’s greatest song? Their most popular? Best reviewed? That which true fans best appreciate? I have a theory. If an impartial reviewer were to rank all music on a list, based on merit alone, then whichever song lands highest on that list could be reasonably assumed to be the greatest. This hypothetical methodology ignores music listeners’ relationship with bands and does not consider how songs interface with a band’s library. We cannot review music in a vacuum because we cannot listen to it in a vacuum. So, I will return to the previous, very much partial suggestions. A band’s most popular song is not destined to be its greatest because popularity is decided by the vagaries of trends. How many, otherwise solid artists are, known for some gimmick song? The reviewers must be rejected as well. Reviews of Various Positions didn’t even mention Hallelujah (“Now, I’ve heard there was a secret chord/ That David played, and it pleased the Lord”)! Instead, I think a band’s greatest song is that which best showcases their strengths. For example, My Chemical Romance released “Foundations of Decay” when they reunited last year. The single is not as popular as “Welcome to the Black Parade,” nor does it have the rabid following of earlier works like “Skylines and Turnstiles” or “I’m Not OK (I Promise).” It does, however, combine the power of Bullets, the lyrical heights of Three Cheers, the pomp of TBP, and the technical polish of Danger Days. For these reasons, despite not being anyone’s favorite MCR song, “Foundations of Decay” is the greatest. Of course, who determines which song best showcases strengths?

This is the 20th edition of Omnium Gatherum. That is well over 10,000 words and exactly 20 Friday nights pestering my friends for story ideas. To my readers and editors, thank you. I will not be here long enough to see another 20, but who knows, maybe someone will pick up where I leave off.