12/30/2006

reflections on a self help book

"energy is 75% of where you want to be. if you don't have it, be nice."
-self help book

the book has a part on how the people who do well academically don't end up far in life. because we all know that studies and the ability to memorize facts only take you so far. of course, it's all very depressing for someone who feels that they are precisely good at memorizing facts.

don't despair. i am sure the other aspects of your personality can be worked on, as long as you undertake sufficient humility to learn them. of course, reading a book where you're clearly not the target audience (not even the direct target of criticism) isn't that entertaining. but perhaps i'm missing something.

reading rousseau for my essay (see, what use is a university education, how obscure!), you see the same romantic fervour. don't let boys touch books till they're 15. better they be peasants and school in gymnasiums where they wrestle in the nude, to promote love of competition, and imbue in them the spirit of a nation. books serve only to acquaint men with artificial passions, which only make them idle and soft.

there are intelligent and lazy people. i wonder though, if their intelligence is a curse, or if removing the intelligence from otherwise lazy people would merely make them stupid and lazy people. it is apparently true, to rousseau at least, that peasant and barbarian farmers and soldiers are imbued with virtue and a sense of duty and discipline, while "civilised" peoples grow corrupt and weak.

surely then that is what they mean. giving up your intelligence is no use if you're only going to use your knew found stupidity to waste your money on horses and drink. so, in addition to intelligence, have other attributes as well. otherwise you would just be substituting laziness in menial duty to laziness of thought.

what rousseau fails to see is that intelligence is sometimes at odds with society. voltaire always reproached him for preaching his spartan education with emphasis on sports, but abandoning his children to a nursing home. his response: "i would have made a bad father anyway." perhaps it was his erratic temperaments and need to write and complete his ideas which made him someone who would care less about his duties to others?

that is the seduction and temptation intelligence offers, that it is the key to unlocking the secrets to the universe. i have kids, but oh wait, i'm unlocking the universe. take care of my kids for me will you. so many creative minds have abrogated their duties in the belief that what they have is of worth to the human race.

so perhaps rousseau is right. you are worth nothing. better try to make it as a scientist or academic, but don't let your intelligence corrupt daily life. best leave it to people who get things done. the skepticism of rationality (why do this? why believe in god? why challenge yourself?), a necessary tool to the scientific method, only gets in the way of human vision.

perhaps i still have anachronistic values. i try to convince myself of the energy, but sometimes i'm resigned to being nice. of course i've the same worries as many yuppies. will i be happy, will i be rich, here's what they say to me. wanting to be financially independent, and despairing of alternative routes. failure of vision. i think the sweetest thing i heard today was "i hate christmas, because everyone is so happy", said in a very innocent voice (or so i think). totally unrelated, but it reminds me of my younger days. i'm such a realist nowadays (hate christmas? whatever for? positive thinking!!!) end with happy thoughts.

"i know, size can be daunting. but don't be afraid. i love you! i luuurve you!"
- happy feet

"it's okays. my philosophy's is profounds. i not expectings you to understands its easily."

1 comment:

Rachel said...

i feel very honoured to be quoted in your entry. =)

of course, why would an innocent person say such a thing anyway?