Two in Two Thousand: Lina Khan & Amanda Korman

In good Record tradition, I sat down last Friday in the Record office to interview graduating editors-in-chief Amanda Korman ’10 and Lina Khan ’10. In an uncanny Record coincidence, we sat down in almost the exact positions that we had occupied when they interviewed me for the position of news editor five semesters ago. Back in fall ’07, all I knew about Lina and Amanda was that they were very brilliant and very nice and that, according to an editorial board application form, “the only thing that Lina can draw, in the entire world, is snails,” and “Amanda brought a fridge to school for the sole purpose of displaying her collection of magnets.” And back then, I didn’t yet consider them friends whom I will miss dearly.

You two take the college ideal of living and working together to a new level. Thoughts?
AK: Lina and I were wondering how this interview was going to go.
LK: I guess 23 Thomas St. is one place to start.

What will you miss most about it?
AK: Now that it’s spring, I’m more aware of the house. And its yard.
LK: The yard is actually quite amazing. We have sizeable land. One of our housemates once said she’s never been able to empathize with the American dream of owning a piece of land, but now we have this land and you can just go out there –
AK: – and you just sit on it –
LK: – or till it, you know. Not there yet.

Is there any tilling in your post-college plans?
LK: None. Distinctly none. Especially given that my practical abilities, as I’m rapidly discovering, are pretty limited.
AK: You till information.

Am I allowed to ask about theses, or is that too sensitive?
LK: It’s fine. Amanda had a pretty fantastic reading yesterday. Mine’s due on Monday … I think I just came up with a title. [suspenseful intake of breath from Amanda]. Somebody was recently explaining to me that after writing their thesis they felt something like postpartum depression, and I had a difficult time empathizing. But I can understand why there would be some sadness. Mine was basically just an academic excuse to write about things that I like thinking about.

Amanda, any postpartum depression?
AK: Not really. My thesis was four short stories. Besides the fact that they were all created in the same four months, it was only afterwards that I could say how their concerns related to one another. For me it felt more like, OK, here’s a stopping point. At which point the library made it into a bound book.
LK: I saw your bound book yesterday! It was so cool. And colorful.
AK: Mine is maroon. And you get to pick the color the type is – I picked white. That was one of the coolest parts: you go down into one of those secret compartments of Sawyer, and hang out with the archival lady and choose the color of your binding. And the archive lady prints out a full sheet of paper, with a border, that says, “Congratulations! Thesis accepted by Nancy Wojnicki.” It’s just so cute. So I hung it up in my room.

I stalked both of your Facebook accounts before this interview. You both have very minimalistic profiles.
AK: Well, I got rid of all my interests. I had a couple of things for interests and bands and music – and last week it wanted me to link everything that it could process, and put little icons on my profile. So most of the things on my profile are gone, because they wanted me to be an advertisement for Sufjan Stevens.

Lina, the only things you had on Facebook were your gender and political views.
LK: Yeah, I guess both my gender and my political views are very … I actually don’t remember what it says about my political views.

Something about justice.
AK: Something like “justice or … treating other people well”?
LK: Oh, I think it’s a Levinas quote, which defines justice as how you relate to other people.

When were you inspired to put that on your profile?
LK: Probably last year at Oxford, when I was taking a lot of courses that would ask things like, “What is justice?”
AK: It’s so funny because you call it justice, and I would call it … something else.
LK: It’s an interesting way to be ending this place. After a lot of theory and abstraction, realizing more this tug between people having rigorous philosophical arguments about what justice means and people just being kind to other people …
AK: It’s like, how is it possible that this is getting simpler? Like R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And like, why do I care about the things I care about? It’s a very lofty thing to say [intones deeply]: “Fiction helps us to achieve empathy towards the other.”
LK: There you go. If we had to collectively articulate our position on the world in … four words … three words?
AK: Wait, I’ll say one and then you say one and we can correct each other. “Justice for the other”?
LK: Where’s the fiction?
AK: Oh, right.
LK: “Fiction as justice for the other?”
AK: I actually really like that.

How about summarizing your Record experience in, what was it, five words?
AK: Oh god, can you give us some time? This must be what it feels like to be a Man on the Quad. Should we do this collaboratively, Lina?
LK: We seem pretty good at that. Are we trying to make a sentence, or just five adjectives?
AK: I think a sentence.
[Witty, theoretical deliberations ensue. Witty, theoretical deliberations eventually become an exposition on beautiful simplicity of a bright red sweatshirt just being itself.]
LK: What were we looking for?
AK: I think we were trying to come up with words.
LK: Oh, right. Maybe the only way we’d be able to come up with something would be if this were a deadline situation.

We could come back to it.
LK: Endlessly deferring things is actually a familiar part of our friendship. Actually, of 23 Thomas St. more generally. Which can be problematic.
AK: Someone the other day said something like, “Guys, we should really have a party.” And someone else was like, “Yeah, there’s like three weeks left. We should do it now. Soon.” And whoever it was said, “Yeah, yeah, we should … have … one.” And we actually are having a party, but in that moment, it was this feeling of, oh yeah, we will, but no planning ever.

What was your defining friend moment?

LK: That’s a good question. Because we probably both have different answers. Can we think about them separately before we say them?
AK: This is very stressful. OK, I think I have one. One of the first Record production nights, when the office was still on Spring Street, it had snowed a ton. Lina and I stood at the top of Spring Street and made snow angels, and wrote in gigantic letters with our shoes, “Team News for life.”
LK: I’m not usually into snow angels, but I think it was the 4 a.m. absurdity of the situation that it had to happen.
AK: And then the snow plow came and just destroyed everything.
LK: We were both inclined to make metaphors out of that, but then some better part of us told us not to.
The moment that I thought of was actually an e-mail Amanda wrote me once. We used to have e-mail conversations that would span a ridiculous amount each day, and once we were both in the same building, and at one point we realized that we were both in the same place. And I read this e-mail from Amanda that said something poetic like, “You’re upstairs right now, and I’m downstairs right now, and we’re sending each other these messages that are just moving up and down the stairs, but as electronic particles instead of the air.” And it was in part the slight absurdity of the situation, and also because I like thinking of things in terms of particles, and she had expressed it beautifully, that I thought, “I think this is going to work out.”

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *