July 3rd, 2003

i fight fire with words

Why am i an English major?

In his most recent letter, my friend Kevin wrote
I was a bit surprised to hear that you were not too "blown away" by most of them [my classes] since you've always seemed like the type of person who's more concerned with grades and academic learning than anything else, and much more comfortable in classrooms and academic settings than anywhere else.
This is my response:
Hmm. I'm not entirely sure how to respond to that. College, for me, is an incredible learning experience. Academics, social interaction, work experience, personal growth, etc. And in the classroom i'm more interested in learning stuff i care about than about getting a good grade. In high school it was all about getting into college, though i made it a point to actually care about my activities and classes. Now that i'm in college, though, it's (for me) about being in college. I want to maintain a 3.0 or better GPA, but friends in need take precedence over schoolwork, i can only skimp on sleep so much, i insist on a balance between academic work + a social life + volunteer activities + personal time. I am also learning that it is incredibly difficult for me to do schoolwork if i don't care about the subject (e.g writing a paper analyzing a book i couldn't care less about).

Education and knowledge are crucially important to me. I read loads of nonfiction and write essays synthesizing what i've learned. I always insist that issues are more complicated than they seem and seek out other points of view, other arguments, other information. I spend a lot of my time online debating with people. The debate and study of information and opinions is one of the places i feel most in my element. In many literature classes i feel like people are reading way too deeply into texts, that if you try hard enough you can make a text mean anything. I also often find it uninteresting and useless to analyze literature. Sometimes i find it interesting, but often i don't like the characters, don't like the historical period, and would much rather be debating an issue of current social importance. I'm often tempted to become a high school English teacher, but i would need a good answer to the question of why we study literature, especially at the high school level, and i don't have a good answer yet. I'm still an English major (partly because a major like Public Policy would depress me and i need to be able to take a break from the news for my own sanity whenever i need it, and that doesn't go well with a major in news) because that is still what i most like to do. I'm interested in people, in stories about people. I keep finding pieces of my life reflected in the writings of people very different from myself. I believe in the power of words to change the world. I want to spend my life surrounded by words and ideas and people. I want to know what makes stories eternal, why we still read novels from hundreds of years ago. I want to learn about people through their stories, even when they're not explicitly writing about themselves. I want to know the allusions people make, the stories they are playing with. Words and stories are life and i want to understand them (and also, by understand, learn how to make them myself.)

[And because i realized what icon i'm using, i add the following.]

i fight fire with words
words are hotter than flames
words are wetter than water
i fight fire with words

Kids astound me sometimes.

A woman came in earlier today, returning the 5th Harry Potter book. She had taken it out June 21 (2 weeks ago) and her daughter had read it three times. She wanted to read it more, but her mother made her return it, knowing there would be a lot of kids waiting for it. The book is what, 867 pages? Three times, in two weeks. Wow.
  • Current Mood
i fight fire with words

It occurs to me that i will be able to vote in the 2004 Presidential election.

(thanks sigrun)

This means that after i get back from England i should find out who all the candidates are and look into them.

I'm troubled that Dick Gephardt's website doesn't address his frightening statement that "When I'm President we'll give Executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day" (Rainbow-Push Rally, June 22, 203). (Eugene Volokh blogged about it and Gephardt's office gave an unsatisfactory response.)

I remember reading about Howard Dean in The Advocate a while back, though i also remember Andrew Sullivan later blogging about not being a fan of him.

And i know a lot of the conservative bloggers dislike John Kerrry.

Can you tell i haven't been paying much attention so far?

Feel free to pimp the candidates of your choice below (and of course throughout your own journal as much as you desire), though we know of course i have to be difficult and investigate every single candidate when i get the chance.

[Edit to add that it just occurred to me that this means i will end up posting about just where i stand on all the issues, because i'll have to go through all the candidates' platforms. Gee, let's see how many people i end up alienating.]