Brain Droppings: My last brain dropping

Scott Novak, Opinion Editor

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So here it is. My last brain dropping. Rather than taking the pointedly critical approach that I usually like to take in my columns, I’m going to try something new.

E.B. White once said, “I am often mad, but I would hate to be nothing but mad, and I think I would lose what little value I may have as a writer if I were to refuse, as a matter of principle, to accept the warming rays of the sun, and to report them, whenever, and if ever, they happen to strike me.”

I, too, am often angry, and I think that this anger is justified, as anger provides the spark for change, but I am certainly not angry all the time. I will use my last words to report on what rays of sunlight have struck me in this past year I’ve spent as part of The Patriot staff.

I love this paper.  Joining it was the best decision I’ve made in all of my four years here. I’ve worked with some brilliant students, and moderators Nicholas Attanasio and Mark Ionescu are two of the most fantastic teachers at this school. Thank you for allowing me the freedom to think, the most integral part of any education.

Also, thanks for the free pizzas at layout. That was integral as well.

One of my favorite parts of this year has been the interaction with you, the reader. I love the discussions that some of my columns have provoked, and I am honored by the seriousness of your questions and criticisms, which were often explosive. That’s okay, though, as the issues I write about are issues on which a number of intelligent people hold conflicting views.

What I was less than sanguine about was those who deprecated my character instead of my argument.  At worst, I’ve won the titles of Hypocrite, Narcissist, and Illness That Plagues America, a title which I hope to earn again sometime in my life, but at best, I’ve won a few national awards, so I can’t complain.

Finally, thank you to my family for supporting my passion to write and helping me laugh when the controversy got heated.  A few specific people need to be mentioned here. To my grandfather, Dan Novak: thank you for the hours and hours you’ve spent driving me around. You move me to do great things, in both the literal and figurative senses. To my grandmother, Carol Black: thank you for nourishing within me the love of books at an early age and for all the Washington Post clippings you’ve sent me. To my younger brother, Joe: thank you for being one of my most enthusiastic supporters. To my little sister, Caroline: I’m sorry for being like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, shut off in my tower to write, instead of playing video games with you, but I’ll try to hold an Xbox controller in my hand at least once before I leave for college. And to my parents: you have made tremendous sacrifices to send me to JC. I will never be able to repay you for that. All the wonderful experiences I have had with The Patriot would be impossible without you two.

I will stop the praise now and end with this thought: many of my critics have unfairly attributed my general contrariness to my age, telling me that I will grow out of it eventually. But, while some of my views may change in the future, I am determined to make sure my questioning nature does not.

To me, the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, is something that is not worth having. I want to live my life in a constant state of exploration, reminding myself that I can’t ever know enough, that I can’t ever understand enough. If I have learned one thing this year, it’s to take the risk of thinking for yourself.

Thank you all, and may the stench of my brain droppings ever linger in your nostrils.

Scott Novak is an Opinion Editor and columnist for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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