“‘It is demonstratable,’ said he, ‘that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all created for an end, all is necessarily for the best end.” -Pangloss
As Newton’s Third Law states, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. However, for each seemingly tame assertion of philosophical optimism in Candide, there are many more horrible misfortunes befalling Candide and company. Continue reading “Of Physics and Philosophy”→
After weeks of not posting, I proceed to double post. Excuse the blogging faux-pas.
I didn’t think that anyone would be happy reading the wall of text that is the synthesis response to the establishment of identity through words and my thoughts on identity in general in the same post, so I’m making a separate post for my thoughts. Continue reading “Identity: But Wait, There’s More”→
Throughout this year, I have been trying to define myself as a person. Who am I? What do I like? What do I want to do? What causes do I support? What do I believe in?
Thankfully, I’m not the only person out there with these kinds of questions. A short snippet of Holden Caulfield’s life, chronicled in the Catcher in the Rye, has supported the idea that language creates identity. Continue reading “Identity Defined”→
For my English class, I recently completed an online college portfolio, a collection of documents useful in the college application process. This included items such as a resume, entrance essay, and college search write-up, all of which I put into a folder in Google Drive justly titled, “College Portfolio”. If you are a rising senior (or even perhaps a curious rising junior), I highly recommend this project because it helped me reflect on myself as a person and got me a head start on applying to college. Continue reading “Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR): College Is Expensive”→
One questions students are frequently asked is, “What’s your favorite subject?”. As a student, I find myself faced with this question a lot. I find that it kind of comes down to preference: like a photo, answers and general course of a subject falls into one of these three broad categories: clear, blurry, and the in-between. What distinguishes each category varies from person to person, so I’ll be going into my take on each category.
The obvious example for a subject with a clear answer is math. Often, there is only one right answer to a problem, though there may be many ways to solve a problem. Personally, I find math really monotonous: I don’t naturally “think in math” and have little tolerance for trying to for extended periods of time. I’m that one kid that obsessively checks how many problems he/she has left; it’s as tense as a rocket countdown. Each number down represents one number closer to freedom. Nevertheless, I can see the simple, elegant appeal of math to those who have the patience to sit down with it. It’s amazing watching people solve things with ingenious simplicity; math teachers tend to do this effortlessly. I’m mostly the kid on the side gaping in awe.
Thankfully, I don’t do my best gaping catfish impression for all of my school subjects. In contrast, I find that participating in English class is a lot easier for me, which I attribute to the seemingly endless possibility of answers in English class. Truly the number of answers to a question are not infinite. Well scratch that, they kind of are, but quality answers are those strongly supported by ample textual evidence. There is usually a widely accepted point of view, but there is no need to accept it. Provided the case is strong enough, the analysis of any argument can be broken down and interpreted in many ways.
Though these two subjects are the relative extrema of the school subject spectrum, they are by no means the endpoints. In the middle are all of the other subjects in school I have neglected to mention: history, physics, chemistry, economics. Answers in all subjects are varying degrees of clarity. It’s no so easy to define these subjects because different parts shift the subject on the spectrum. Me? I lean left towards open answers. Or ambiguity; it all depends on how you see things.
Definitely messy. Assorted magazines, tan newspapers, and opened letters are strewn around past, present, possibly late assignments and intermixed with monochrome notebooks, brochures, and various writing utensils. Wires swing comfortably over the edge straight down. Do-it-yourself projects lay unfinished; a bottle of Bath & Body Works lotion is propped up against a cubic, floral-print Kleenex box. Light bounces off of the protruding tissue, creating a cool underside to the synthetic carnation blooming from the top of the box. Dusty and unused, a sleek, black keyboard lies in the far corner, long replaced by rather bulky laptop. That is my desk.
“New year, new me” goes the common saying about plans for next year. Not surprisingly, the phrase has drawn a lot of skepticism; critics parry, “a leopard cannot change its spots”. For the most part, the kind of change that we want isn’t going to happen. No, we probably won’t be committed to exercising and eating healthy right away. No, getting organized isn’t going to happen overnight. No, our common tendency to procrastinate is, unfortunately, as stubborn as the pomegranate stain we procrastinated on soaking. Starting the New Year with a series of “no”s seems disheartening, but Seth Godin’s “The Art of Noticing, and Then Creating” presents “no” not as an indisputable end, but a segue into possibilities. It is not simply “no”, Godin says, but, a “no for now”.
For a while, I had called myself a realist, a firm believer in the classification of anything into one of two categories: the possible and the impossible. Life was a matter of sorting these things into the category in which they belonged. Eating? Possible. Dragons? Impossible. Going to school on Mondays? Possible. Cramming for a test the day of? Debatable, but depending on the topic, it could be ruled impossible or possible, quick and easy, no sweat. In a hurry, I was quick to take things at face value, quick to deem things unnecessary, quick to declare a flatlining idea dead. Its time in my brain, regardless of how long or short it dwelled in there, was spent. It was better to bury it immediately and let the earth tend to its grave.
But it is harder done than said, to let the dead bury the dead. I came across a number of things that I couldn’t put into neat little boxes and found holes in my boxes. Rats. Perhaps it was rats that chewed on the boxes in my brain, rats that could defy the laws of science and seep undetected like a gas into my head, fiddle with my synapses and scamper away. It was easier to believe in than dragons, anyway, and a lot easier to swallow than the possibility that brown, cardboard boxes weren’t the best things to put life in.
I have since put boxes behind me, but it was a phase I recalled when reading “The Great Gatsby”. I can’t claim I have much in common with the narrator, Nick Carraway, except a dual irritation and fascination with Jay Gatsby, a man who lived only through hearsay, the owner of the gorgeous palace next door. As the summer slips by, Gatsby becomes less of an enigma and more human, pitiable even, for his unrequited adoration of Daisy. I guess I can’t say it was wholly unrequited, but nevertheless, it was pathetic how Gatsby hankered after Daisy, despite being separated from her for five years and on top of that, learning that she was already married. What was even more foolish was Gatsby’s willingness to take the blame for Daisy’s actions leading up to Myrtle’s death and his subsequent death at the hands of a vengeful Wilson. However, Gatsby is never truly “solved”; there’s something to be had in his tenacity, first in transforming from a penniless soldier into one of the wealthiest members of New York’s elite class and then in his unerring love for Daisy, Gatsby’s ability to take “no”s for “no for now”. Yes, he thought. Yes I can become rich, though I might not have a lot of money now. Yes, I can win the love of Daisy. Yes, I am no longer James Gatz, but Jay Gatsby. So what if none of those “yes”s actually became a reality, save the first one? This new year, I too, want to dream crazy things and hope to achieve the impossible, to grasp the little green light at the end of the dock.