Archive for June, 2013

Dream Recollection: Brick Flowers and Spiders

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

In front of the porch of a house, I see a neat square pile of salmon-colored bricks. I forget whether or not they were for sale.

I see that, allotted minutes after removal from the pile, the bricks collapse into dirt, from which flowers instantaneously sprout. The flowers are small and clumped, like those you see on berry plants, somewhere between white and purple.

I move past the bricks and squeeze underneath the foundation of the porch into a crawl space sparingly lit by dust-grayed rays of light.

I notice movement in the corner — a spider.

It is alerted to my presence and immediately pursues me with alarming haste while while inflating in girth, from fist to chest-size. It leaps and draws one of its forelegs. The leg has a gleaming emerald and silver scimitar at its end. Some part of my body is slashed. I awake.

A Premature Resurrection of the English (aka Humanities) Major

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

A less thought out post, but something I wanted to get out nonetheless:

There’s been a rash of recent articles coming to the rescue of the bruised English major (as a proxy for the wider population of Humanities majors), which has served as a punching bag for corporate propoganda for so long.

Ex:
The Best Argument for Studying English? The Employment Numbers” by Jordan Weissman

Why I Hire English Majors” by Steve Strauss

With the exception of climate change, I am increasingly thinking that things aren’t so bad, things aren’t so good. My perceived doom and gloom of the state of study of the humanities has perhaps been overly darkened by the dark pastels of The Chronicle of Higher Education and Grad Cafe forums. The latter article especially take a bit of a simplistic viewpoint (written in business-speak that neuters the worth of majors to associate job skills and performance). But reading those prompts me to think there may be a bit of a regulatory swing in the deeper future. For now, there is still an excess of unemployed humanities majors, but as fewer and fewer students go that route (and more go to computer engineering), there may come a time where the supply of computer engineers is in a bit of an excess.

Also, I continue to marvel at how fickle, contradictory, and inconsistent corporate-sanctioned literature is as a collective beast. The contradictory advice that business books give is a microcosm of this phenomenon.

One day, a spurt of articles will announce, “AN ENGLISH MAJOR WILL LEAVE YOU UNEMPLOYED AND CHILDLESS!” in response to a study.

A month later, a collection will summarize, “SO, TURNS OUT AN ENGLISH MAJOR WON’T SCREW YOU FOR LIFE!”

“GO TO COLLEGE!”

“DON’T GO TO COLLEGE!”

Figured Something Out

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The June 24th issue of  The New Yorker is wonderful, an enlightening issue among consistently educational issues.

Last Call,” by Larissa MacFarquhar, and especially “The Gift of Doubt” by Malcolm Gladwell (loathe as I am to join the venerable choir heaping praise on him), which introduced me to the unorthodox ideas of Albert O. Hirschman, have helped dislodge me from a rut I had been stuck in for the past few days.

So what if I have taken meandering detours, made uninformed decisions in my life? Due to my planning (or lack thereof), I am past the point of being able to present myself as a 20-year-old wunderkind with a tunnel vision focus. But why did I want to be that, anyway? To be honest with myself, the pursuit of glory and attention for vanity’s sake, the desire to maximize practical earnings potential for a better retirement, and the yearn to be less of a psychic and financial burden on my parents — they were the chief provocations sourcing my regret and insecurity. In terms of the latter two motivations, I am young enough that I can still hold true to them. For the first one, my envious ego will just have to put up and shut up.

And wondering about the circumstances of a universe where I would have made none of those detours? I already realized it was useless behavior before, but Hirschman’s anecdotes have further spelled out and reinforced its uselessness in my mind, conditioning me to better fight off pointless, pining speculation of alternate histories in the future. Human speculation is a weak tool because we typically discount the mischief of chaos in producing unintended outcomes (Murphy’s Law). We overlook the fact that we are who we are because of the experiences we have undergone, and that a different background would have also generated a different set of speculatory fantasies because it is base human instinct to pine. Just because I chose x, does not mean that a better, ideal y would happen. An non-sequitur accident from left field could have prompted a lateral, or worse z.

******

Through my wanderings, I have developed and refined an artistic taste that has guided me towards works that I would have rather experienced than not. I have met a wide array of people in different industries, which has helped me sample the breadth of human variation, empathize with my friends. I have acquired knowledge that I can force myself to holistically apply in the future by exploring interdisciplinary ventures that lie between fields. I have acquired knowledge that I perhaps have already unknowingly used to my benefit.

******

And so, for the time being, I have grappled Melancholy to a stalemate. I relish the momentary reprieve and await the next assault of my familiar adversary, for I know we will battle again in the near future.

Terrestrial Regret

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

I wonder if the Earth ever regrets anything.

Like, “Fuck me. Why did I break up Pangaea? The continents looked so good together. I am a manipulative asshole.”

“I wish I could take back the Himalayas.”

“Good God. Why did I spend so much time on the Mediterranean Sea?”

It’s All Perspective?

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Read this recently: “You only hate grad school because you think you’re supposed to.

It makes me wonder — how much of the failures or less-than-satisfactory results in our lives can be attributed to self-fulfilling prophecies?

I can certainly testify that in college, I procrastinated frequently because I thought that I was supposed to do, adopted a surface disposition against higher education and coursework to fit in with my peers. This mindset was then unequivocally reflected in my grades.

It’s taken up till the recent months to realize, you know what, learning isn’t all that bad.