apolliana: (Default)
Despite the apparent democracy of its classes, St. John's is a strikingly non-transparent place. The curriculum is handed down from on high. The educational objectives are completely undetermined. No explanations of why things are important, or what you should be getting from them, are ever given. This sounds great, in theory. But in my case it led to paranoia: am I finding what I should be finding in these things? And to obsessive attempts at pattern-recognition, at discerning what the guiding intentions were behind the arrangement of the Program.

This contributes all the more to students' paranoia about their own performance. The grading system is--because unspoken--also vague and various. It's harder to know when you're doing well when you have no idea what that would mean.

The College thus takes on characteristics of a religion. It inspires simultaneously doubt about one's own worthiness and about whether what the College requires of one to be worthy--whatever it is--is right. Perhaps this is part of what has made me obsessed with trust issues for much of my adult life. This is also why the College reminds me of The Village from The Prisoner, despite being intended to be the paragon and training ground of democracy.

In past years, I've moved on from the things in my life I believed in that required me to trust them in ways I found difficult. I'm much happier, and don't miss them. Perhaps it's a worthwhile experience to have, but on the whole, if something requires trust to the degree that constant self-doubt is inspired, I would avoid it.
apolliana: (Default)
"Somewhere in the casual flow of things I always forget, in the rowdiness of discussions, that these are the fragile things, thoughts that flutter or fly straight and sharp, like rays or sparks in glass windows. I forget my intellectual spirituality. And as a spirituality, it perhaps wants more grace and awe and mystery and is offended by constant peeking away at ideas. Or is this only my understanding--which still seems to operate fundamentally on a level prior to (or perhaps past) more primitive (or perhaps more advanced) than language. My wonder was always wordless.

"Why must we seek through language? Heidegger's explanation--that language encompasses many, seemingly pre-linguistic levels--is becoming more and more welcome. The things that long ago I said my goal was to take apart and put back together again were names of abstract ideas--forms. Do the ideas arise first, vague and dim, waiting for words which come later? Are the ideas there before the words that name them, calling for words? Are the same ideas embedded in our minds, regardless, these things for which we later find the words--?"

And on another page, above a sketch of College Avenue:

"Must such thinking [philosophical thinking] necessarily be thought about oneself and one's world? It must be; for these are the things for which we have names. Both the human things and the scientific things can be discussed...."

  1. I was the cutest baby philosopher ever.

  2. If nothing else, in 12 years, I've learned to get to the point. On the other hand, people are more likely to complain now that I don't do enough stage-setting. But I don't think I could write like this any more if I tried. Poem-writing, story-writing, song-writing: all apparently lost.

[Analytic philosophy Gods, this was a very long time ago in my timeline. My frontal lobes weren't done yet.]


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