Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Mickey Kaus comments on a suicide at NYU from the 10th floor balcony of one of those horrible deep-vertical atriums that sadistic architects love to inflict on college campuses. I'm mildly acrophobic, and the University of Pittsburgh's plethora of buildings with vertiginous low-barrier balconies led me to reject that university in favor of Penn State's mostly-horizontal campus. Edges with low barriers over deep drops exert a horrible attraction for me - I find myself leaning backwards from them, as if I'm braced against a wind blowing towards the drop. Unsettling.

George RR Martin's A Clash of Kings has a great passage about this compulsion, featuring a "sky cell" - a jail cell where the wall on the side of a horrible precipice is missing, and the floor slightly sloped towards that side of the cell. The cell had a message scrawled on one wall: "The blue is calling me!".

I can't figure out how to defeat Slate's eccentric formatting of Kaus's pseudoblog - just scroll down to "A second NYU student has died after..."

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