Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bitch, moan, and stay up all night!

I'm having my 3rd or 4th huge existential crisis in the last year. The source eludes me, but something is sitting wrong. It's sort of been building for the past few weeks, and I think Serenity Now has finally been replaced with Insanity Now. I really don't think I'm going to sleep tonight... Which will make the 3rd night in exactly one week.

So, what's on my mind? Let's begin with the most immediate, and move backward; a psychological stack, so to speak.

I'm rather confused by the fact that I actually feel more than a crush on a girl for the first time in nigh 5 years. A large part of me is feeling a rather tempestuous aversion to the idea. It's enough to make me think "maybe I should just say I can't do this", but the moment I say that, so many voices in my mind cry out in horror. Part of it is the longing for companionship, but mostly it's that Katie is awesome, and I want to share something more than simple companionship with her. At the same time, I feel there's a gap somewhere. I think the gap is in my ability to let things into my heart, but maybe, just maybe, there's a missing plank somewhere on the bridge...

On that note, it's extremely difficult to articulate thoughts and emotions. The more I want to say, the harder it is to say anything, mostly because my brain never works in any manner that resembles coherence. I cannot communicate my conclusions, or the "overwhelming" idea, as it is ridiculous and empty without the millions of wordless mental states that my mental processor shifts through per second. Obscure tangents contribute nearly as much to my "final" state as anything that directly relates to it.

Of course, confusion because I've forgotten how to feel cannot have been bugging me until I ran into Katie 2 weeks ago, so I doubt this is the primary cause. I have recently realized how much I hate the class setting. I really love to learn, and the university setting is a brilliant for it, but I hate classes with fury and vengeance. There are so many reasons why I may hate them, but none of the classic ones seem to fit:

Calc 3 is easy, and a bit boring, yes, but the overall subject matter is interesting; Adler is an asshole, but he's a good teacher, and I really don't mind his lectures. Data Structures are interesting, the code isn't bad (except test cases), and Beckmann is brilliant and awesome-- one of the coolest professors I'll probably ever have. Shakespeare is perhaps one of the best playwrights of all time, and some of my favorite lines and characters come form his plays. Discreet math is the basis for everything I want to do with my life, and I find it interesting. Gruia is an idiot, and a terrible teacher... well, yeah, that's why I hate that class. but the other three? I have no good reason for disliking those classes, but I do.

What it comes down to is how much I vividly despise the general class structure. It doesn't work with smart people. I don't even know how well it works for normal people. "Why doesn't it work with smart people? And what kind of arrogant ass calls himself too smart for school?"

Answer to question 2: me.

Question 1 is a little more difficult. Smart people have trouble exerting mental effort until they need to. So, when (for example) you're stuck in a class where all you do is add an extra 2 variables to something you've been doing for 2 years, it's very difficult to gather the energy to give a shit. Instead, I don't do anything, then get into the test and say, "Maybe I should have spent more than an hour looking at my book... I would have aced this test." Yet, I still can't gather the energy to care, because it isn't difficult.

People are too used to being fed formulae, so when they have to think (which isn't difficult), they get confused and don't know what to do. Too much focus is put on detail, and not enough on concept. The method of solving ∫ xln(x)dx is trivial if you understand what you're doing when you integrate by parts, but all the formulae in the world won't help you do that problem if you don't understand what an integral really means. You won't be able to write a strong essay if you can't hear the way a sentence falls together, no matter how much grammar you know.

And lectures don't teach you anything about literature. Sure, you can have all the historical context there is, but people bouncing ideas off each other, reacting to statements from others will teach everyone more about a work than any amount of historical research, or detailed analysis.

I'm sick of the importance everyone puts on economic success, and it's relation to college education. There are so many people who would be some much happier, so much more successful, so much more effective without having gone to college. I also hate parents that push their children into a "useful" degree: The purpose of college is to learn, not to get you more money. I don't care a damn if engineering will get me more money than literature, I don't care a damn if it's "hard to make money multiplying infinite cardinals", if that's what I want to learn, that's what I'll study. There are enough people in the world that if everyone found their own niche, we'd all do pretty well (comparatively), but no one seems to realize that.

What it comes down to is that I'm sick of academia being about self-importance. It should be about being interested, about being curious, about learning more about yourself or life or God or anything else by finding something interesting and studying it, watching its beauty radiate as you begin to grok it.

More importantly than all of this is that I can't feel God the way I want to. The same steel lock that's holding Katie out has been holding God out for as long as I've been able to try to let him in. Every time God finds that key, I steal it out of his hands and walk away. By the time he pulls me back to him, the lock's been changed, and it starts all over again.

I'm pretty sure I want to be a rogue scholar. Academia needs to stop taking itself so seriously and realize how crucial it is. It is not that difficult to try to communicate your ideas to someone who wants to learn them, so why the elitist atmosphere in anything written by the intelligentsia?

Basically, I'm sick of myself: I don't want to feel such ennui toward everyone; I want to care about classes; I want to love God; I want to open myself up to Katie...
but I can't: I care too much, or I care too little, or both at once and neither one... I don't want to be tired, but I don't want to sleep.

I'm spiteful, I'm rude, I'm ridiculous. And no one realizes how fucking crazy I am but me. Everyone thinks I'm a sociable, intelligent, empathetic, well-balanced individual, but none of this is quite true: I'm just barely smart enough to realize what an idiot I am (Or just barely stupid enough to think I'm an idiot...); I'm just social enough to realize how few people I really consider my friends; I understand people just well enough to not know a damn thing about any of them; and I'm just rational enough to realize how ridiculous and absurd everything I say or think is. I'm also just close enough to God to realize just how impossibly far from him I am, and will always be. "And it breaks my heart, and it breaks my heart."

So: Tonight, I'm gonna actually study the material for the class I never go to; I'm going to start learning the calc 2 that I never learned; I'll actually do my calc 3 homework for the first time ever; I'll clean my kitchen till I get bored with it; and I'll still have time to study enough algebra for a few weeks of the math class I'm going to be bored in when I take it in the next year or 2, not to mention the thousands of hypothetical social situations that will never happen, and the hundreds of responses to this rant that will never be written or even thought by anyone but me... And I'll spend the gaps laughing at myself for being so ridiculous, or wondering what I should do about the subluxation in my back.

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