Archive | September, 2010

Reprieve Amidst Insanity

30 Sep

So, I forgot how ridiculous school is!  Last week I wrote a paper and this week has been non-stop, well wait, ever since school has started there hasn’t really been a free period of time where I’ve thought, “I have no work hanging over my head.”  Don’t get me wrong, school is awesome and I’m loving it, but it’s a little crazy.

Today I took a written exam for my Aristotle’s politics class and realized how much I’ve learned about that work in the past couple of weeks.  That knowledge, coupled with the fact that Dr. Maurer didn’t give us a greek quiz on Friday, has given me both, on a beautiful day, the feeling of accomplishment combined with the possibility for a little rest.  I even did laundry!  And it wasn’t like that, oh shit I’m completely out of clothes, laundry.  More like, hey I’ve got time, why don’t I avoid falling into that oh shit I’m out of laundry trap?  I’ve already made next week better.

After class Ian, Matt and I spent time talking about classes and thinking about next semester, which holds some pretty promising classes.  After Ian is finished with his class were going to get some translating done for tomorrow, by then people will be in social mode so I’ll go out for awhile.

Oh, I should certainly tell you about Dr. Maurer.  He’s incredible, a little ridiculous, and certainly crazy but in the best of ways.  To begin, he’s quite old, probably about 6’2″, and very skinny.  Every class he saunters in wearing a brown suit but he is always in the most dishevelled of states.  He’s one of those scarecrows whose pants will never fit such a thin waist and therefore must hold them up by cinching up his belt as tightly as possibly.  His collar, always ruffled, helps show off gaunt cheeks and sunken eyes.  I don’t think his impeccable tied tie is ever pulled all the way up.  All of this helps the air of disdain, which he feels for anyone taking his class, “unwilling to learn greek.” (by which he means, slave like dogs to keep up)  He looks down his nose, through those black, thick rimmed spectacles and makes you wonder if you’re his next victim.  But goodness the man is passionate, he even professes a hatred of philosophy to protect his beloved poetry.  We translated Solon’s fragment 1  and he told us at the end, “many people go through life having no idea what they love.  This Solon, I know, is beautiful.  Here we cannot make sense of the why; here is a man before philosophy and before revealed religion who struggles with the injustice of the world and is unwilling, that is certain, to let go of Zeus’ justice.  He has no philosophic tricks or religious mysteries, he must face the injustice of the world and understand how Zeus remains just in spite of it all.   But he doesn’t despair and that is beautiful.”  While this sentiment would normally disturb me and would resonate with the “spiritual, not religious” crowd, that would be their own mistake in thinking him kin.  This man is too much, there is too much in him, to associate him with those fools.  Furthermore, his disdain and love of truth sets him apart and above.  One beautiful thing I heard him say was, “If any of you are interested in the word truth I have done an etymology that I’ll send to you.  It turns out, rightfully so, that truth is not like a butterfly but like an Oak. Massive, deep and unmoving.”  And that’s why I’m here, no?  That big oak has drawn me to itself and is generally something terrible that hangs over my mind and drives me to despair, that is, the truth of myself!  But today I get to rest in the shade; if only for awhile.

Tardiness

28 Sep

I just dropped Jake off at the airport this morning!  He’s freaking leaving for South Korea to teach English.  I know I haven’t written in awhile.  Last week I wrote my first graduate paper then Jake came for the weekend, so I’ve been kind of running around like an insane person.  I have a couple things I’m interested in posting about and I’m considering putting up my paper because I think it’s interesting and relevant to today’s situation, although it doesn’t address today’s political atmosphere directly.  So, the only news I have for you is JAKE IS IN SOUTH KOREA and I made it through a hectic but pleasant week. I’m off to learn about Aristotle’s Politics.  Have a nice Tuesday.

Warning Labels

22 Sep

Dr. West began class very seriously, “I’m sorry I didn’t read this to you the first class, I should of; it was insensitive of me not to do so.”Hilarious and depressing.

Virtue, Jane Austen and The Predicament

19 Sep

It’s late and I’m exhausted.  I visited a friend and we watched the BBC production of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.  I think I’m in love with Emma Thompson.  Watching it affected me quite strongly with a desire towards a more virtuous existence but I feel so conflicted because I find in myself the germ of virtue but it doesn’t manifest itself in the manner of Jane Austen’s characters.  This doesn’t make me doubt either mine own virtue or that of Austen’s characterizations.  Essentially I think that no one acts with the propriety of her characters but it is completely conceivable that people would act that way she has them act, that is to say, Jane Austen knows human nature with the depth of a philosopher; Jane Austen is a philosopher.  To recognize the philosophic depth of Austen one only need the Nichomachean Ethics or here John Pascarella, a friend of mine from UNT, explain the similarities between Austen and Aristotle.  But what does that mean for me?  I do not have the means, none of us has the means either materially or socially, to exude such a virtuous and noble air.  I could live a stringently prudent life but would sacrifice the bulk of my social relations to do so and even then I would doubtfully acquire the material means for any magnanimous action.

So, in conclusion, I am frustrated.  Furthermore, I have a load of work to do tomorrow and little time in which to accomplish it.  With church in the morning and Constitution Day Dinner tomorrow evening, I will possess maybe four hours in which to work.  I could abstain from drinking any alcohol at the Dinner but that would be completely contrary to the nature of the event as I’m to understand it.  It will be a very St. John’s style social event, with drinking, an academic and patriotic lecture on the Constitution followed by the group singing of songs.  If I were to act with prudence it would be prudish and rather than strengthening the bonds between myself and the other politics students I would certainly set myself apart, but then I could work later that night.  I do know one thing for sure, I need to end this break-from-work-blog-post and return to reading.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your Saturday and that all is well.

Sincerely,

Cole Simmons

Absurdities By The Lack of Sunlight

16 Sep

I don’t know what it is that animates me.  Do I love the best in man or is it an attempt to project, impose, myself on man?  Either way, it’s exhausting – everything’s personal.  Every idea, every event, every foolish thing someone says, but also every beautiful thing one beholds.  One constantly feels abject and wretched or absolutely thrilled at the discovery of that nobility of human nature.  But maybe it’s the night that drives me to such immoderate thoughts?  Detached and wandering, not traveling in known places but fighting with others, represented by their notions and not by their presence, or with oneself.  That’s what makes me worry, is it all just me?  How upsetting if that’s the case.  Part of me enjoys this absurdity, goodness, I’m making a public profession of the absurdity – I must enjoy it.  In any event, (I like that phrase don’t I?) I saw something beautiful today at it was nice.  I felt light and happy, having lived well and witnessed beauty.  And yet, I’m utterly frustrated by foolish speech, I was also told how narrow minded I am.  I wanted to scream, I loved your form today, you human; I loved it!  That love was expressed in that narrow mindedness I just spoke but you did not see.  Now you make me think how foolish your form is, all within the span of hours.

I think I will go to bed.

“Intellectual Conversation”

13 Sep

They were girls and they were cute.  We met them while out Friday night this weekend and after talking about what we were studying, why we chose UD, etc.  I got to talk to the one who wasn’t engaged (seriously, everyone’s engaged or married.) about other fairly normal things, like where we were from and what we thought of the school.  When we were talking about social life at UD, more specifically, what she and her friends did, she made it clear that while they’re not boring and they enjoy “having fun” that, “she really likes intellectual conversation.”

I always learn two things when a girl says this to me.  First, that she wants me to approve of her, which means she’s interested in me.  Second, I immediately question her intelligence.

Now, I know, I’m sure I’ve said a million and one times that I prefer intelligent conversation to inane small-talk.  But I’ve found that people generally think it’s cool to “be an intellectual,” almost like a fashion decision.  Furthermore, those who actually devote themselves to any serious thought usually say what it is they are interested in, rather than give the vague pronouncement that they enjoy stimulating their mind.  The telling point is that “intellectual conversation” is a special event for them.

She gave me her number and I was supposed to call her Saturday.  I was going to bed and just realized that I completely forgot.

Why I Posted The Video and Asked The Question

9 Sep

Well, many people were interested in the video or at least the title of the post “Burning the Quran” but nobody attempted a public answer of my public question.  In any event, some have asked me for my thoughts and, naturally, I’m happy to give them.  To begin, what this Florida Pastor is doing, that is, Burning Qurans, is mean spirited and a generally enthusiastic, that is, unreflective, manner of action.

But he still retains the right as a US Citizen to dispose of his property in a manner of his choosing.  Similar misguided actions, such as abolitionists burning the constitution as a “slave document’ or Vietnam protesters burning the flag were also maligned (correctly so) but none of those people suffered unjustly through the loss of their property, that is, through the loss of their life, liberty or possessions.  If this man were to do so and suffered a loss of life, liberty or property, and the authorities either looked away or cared little, that would mark, in my opinion, a distinct change in the tenor of our political freedom.  The Mohammedan’s demand for respect of the image of Mohammed and for their holy book, respect that comes with the threat and oftentimes promise of force, is wholly incompatible with western ideals.  They have set an international standard, “if you do this, expect violence.”  Our pundits and society at large find it excusable because we do not hold this religious sect to the same standards, in effect we feel obligated to this religion because of our military presence in its cultural centers.  If the wars are justified, our acquiescence is not.  If the wars are not justified, our presence in those cultural centers is fallacious.  Therefore General Petraeus, who presumable feels the wars are justified, along with the Obama administration, who also claims the war in Afghanistan is just, display the new weakness of the west when they allow Islamic elements to make demands on our propriety, demands which we would allow no other people or sect to make.  Violent actions in reaction to a legal action are never justifiable and no legal action should be discouraged because someone might act unlawfully.  This gives victory to those who would subvert the law.  This is essentially what is occurring on an international level.  Major news outlets, even comedy central, censor material in order to appease the lawlessness of Islamic elements.*  This is unacceptable and a very real threat to American law.

I do not support this pastor in his actions of burning the Quran, but I respect his right to do so.  And no man should be deterred from disposing of his property in a lawful manner by threats of unlawful violence.

Our law, in our land, is supreme.  Any attempt at subversion of this law, no matter what guise the wolf puts on, is completely unacceptable.

*It is the right of those news agencies and private corporations to censor material they own.  Yet, how long before such a censorship becomes habitual to the citizenry of the US and finds expression in governmental censorship?