A Quick Word

"In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism." -Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)

26 January 2010

My spin.

Not that any of you (provided a "you" even exists) actually read the article that I posted in my last entry; however, here is my abbreviated opinion on it.

I resent the proclamation of "death" attributed to the Humanities for this reason: it shows an ignorance and apathy that reaches beyond the pathetic and into the ridiculous. Just because a particular thing is in the decline does not mean it is "dying." The idea of "death" implies a complete and definite end to the subject-- when a person is dying, it means that he or she is on the verge of ceasing to live. So, does this mean that the Humanities find themselves on the threshold of complete dissolution? Of course not. To say that the Humanities lie on the verge of ceasing to exist would be to say that thousands of years of history, literature, and philosophy are all completely irrelevant and hold no bearing on today's world. Could it be that, instead of "dying," the humanities have simply assumed a different place in society? Admittedly, we were never in the majority, and perhaps have now reached a point at which things begin to level out. It is important then that we adapt rather than throw our hands up and herald the passing of such a noble pursuit.

And that brings me to my second thought: we must once again make the Humanities a noble pursuit. From my experience at the U of I, not much has been done to establish the Humanities' place in a modern world. Little is made of the valuable skills that can be gained from studying the thoughts and lives of those who came before us. Instead of an asset, a liberal arts degree has come (at least in some circles) to mean a degree in the esoteric, something with no material benefit. We can not assume this notion if the Humanities are to remain in the university (particularly in public universities.) I'm growing tired of blaming things on the Morrill Act, the lack of funding, etc., when there are things to be done.

If nothing else, the Liberal Arts major learns something that is (apparently) not taught elsewhere in the university-- the ability to write in a manner that is clear, timeless, and jargon-free. Two days a week, my Latin class meets in one of the business buildings. Outside our classroom, there is a poster sponsored by the Marketing something-or-other that advertises a mentoring program for Marketing students. I'm going to take a picture of it and post it on here. The writing is so atrocious that it made me cringe. I hold the opinion that, until Business majors know how to write effectively and spell correctly, there will be a place for the humanities on campus, and that our relevance should not be contested.

21 January 2010

Right out of my mouth.

Why write a series of posts when my words have already been said? I know it's long, but we really should less impatient, anyway. Click HERE.

20 January 2010

All things considered. (Not the NPR news broadcast).

I promised that I would update with news of progress on my novel (which we'll call Tales for short) and with anecdotes from everyday life. As for the first, I am into chapter four, around page 50. Though I haven't had the opportunity to write since coming down to Champaign, I hope to form a more regimented schedule once I get a feel for my classes' workloads.

As for the second, I have this to share: I have not showered today. Mind you, this is not by choice; rather, I have been forced into it because of an unspecified "work" being done to the pipes in my building. And though the water was supposed to be usable this morning, when I turned on my shower, I was greeted with the heavy smell of dirt and sawdust and small brown chunks came out of the faucet. Thankfully, it's a rainy day. This means that no one will notice I look awful because everyone will look awful. It's what traipsing about to class in soggy jeans will do to you.

I must admit, however, that the thing most dominant in my mind at present has little to do with my writing or my faulty shower-faucet: it has to do with my life's vocational ambition. Forever a lover of the Humanities, I hoped to one day teach them-- to be an arbiter of information, impressing on younger generations the need to know the accomplishments and horrors of those who came before us. Yet I have been deterred in this pursuit by the very people who should champion it: my professors. In the three English classes I have taken at the U of I, all three professors have made statements to the effect of "The study of literature (or the humanities) is a dying field. There is no hope for it." This disquiets me for a number of reasons, which I will post in a (hopefully) synoptic form on this blog in the coming days. Until then...

16 January 2010

I don't watch movies all that often.

Last night, because my sister took over the basement (meaning I couldn't continue my Xbox marathon), I decided to watch a movie with my parents. After combing through our On-Demand choices, we landed on two very disparate options: Public Enemies and Julie and Julia. I don't fully understand how we came to pit those two movies against one another, but in the end the victor was Julie and Julia, and so I pressed "Order Movie" and we were on our way.

I actually liked the movie. Meryl Streep (as always) was fantastic as Julia Child; I almost felt at parts that the movie should have just followed her storyline and eschewed the Amy Adams (Julie) one altogether. But this post isn't about the movie. It's about blogging. I remembered while watching the movie that I actually have one (a blog, that is), and have neglected to update in some time. For those who have not seen Julie and Julia, the plot revolves around Julie's blog as she attempts to cook her way through Julia Child's famous book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and is splashed throughout with vignettes of both women and their intertwining stories. See, the blog thing wasn't too far off, was it?

I also realized that my posts are grotesquely uninteresting. Unlike Julie's journey through Julia Child's cookbook, my blogs lack cohesion (as they always have) and convey neither opinion or information. Mostly, one can tell my blogs apart simply because they say very well very little; that is, they lack substance though they always display care for grammar and style. Thus, it dawned on me that I need a journey to chronicle here, much like the one that Julie had.

While I don't intend to wade through Emeril's New Orleans Cooking or anything of that sort, there are a few long term projects/goals that I continue to work on. Of these, the two most compelling are perhaps my novel and my attempt to live on my own (which, as I discovered last semester, brings its own interesting challenges.) From now on, I promise to update on these aspects of my life, rather than focus on my confusion or lack of energy or blah-blah-blah...

We'll see how it goes.