Rohit's Realm - January 2012

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January 02, 2012

Rohit Reviews: Notes from Underground

Notes from the Underground

I am a sick man . . . I am a wicked man. An unattractive man. I think my liver hurts. With those opening sentences, Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1864 novella Notes from Underground joins the pantheon of books with awesome opening lines, alongside such masterpieces as Anna Karenina, A Tale of Two Cities (review here), Pride and Prejudice, and Huckleberry Finn. And like its compatriots just mentioned, Notes did not disappoint beyond its opening lines.

Considering that Notes is often regarded as the first existential novel, it has, unsurprisingly, long been on my list of books to read. But for whatever reason, it never was a priority, and given the length and density of other works of Russian literature (including a few by Dostoevsky himself), the almost absurdly short Notes, which clocks in at only 131 pages, always seemed to fall by the wayside. That is, until my second ill-advised book-buying binge of 2011. But length can be deceiving: despite its rather skimpy appearance, the novel still packs a rather impressive intellectual punch—and this time, without the 200 pages or so of exposition usually endemic to Russian novels.

January 22, 2012

Some Thoughts on Sports Allegiances

SF 49ers

Obsessive allegiances to sports teams have always mystified me, even as I myself hold and act upon these obsessive allegiances. This most worthless of sites, for instance, has long documented my ire and despair over the trials and tribulations of the ever faltering Cal Golden Bears. But as I myself observed some years back following an especially devastating failure by my alma mater that nearly brought me to tears, the notion of caring enough to weep about a sports institution whose only relation to you is that it represents your undergraduate university is difficult to explain—at least as a rational matter. The notion that one might care the same way about a team whose only relation is even more tenuous—that it represents a city which you may have once called home—is downright preposterous.

All these rational thoughts notwithstanding, each August I inevitably get excited for the upcoming college football season (and by October, am usually reduced to despair by atrocious quarterback play). Worse still, I would have been getting similarly excited about the NFL each year, but for nearly a decade, the team I've long rooted for—the San Francisco 49ers—was stuck in a rut of horribleness that actually made it seem like Cal had a better chance of getting to the Rose Bowl than the 49ers to a playoff game.1 One might think that after a decade of next to no expectations, my allegiance to the 49ers might have lessened. Instead, hours away from the NFC Championship, I again find myself anxiously awaiting the game—and wondering why it is that I care so much.