Saturday, April 9, 2011

Why I love Dostoeyevsky and suck at Mathematics

My whole life, I've been good at understanding things like music and theater and literature and social systems. And I always sucked at Chemistry and Physics and the like. And I never knew what it was about me that caused this canyon between sciences and humanities.

Today, I discovered the secret.

I am an existentialist. Ha.

Do you know about Existentialism? It's fabulous. A bunch of philosophers had this idea that human existence comes before human essence. Aka they stressed the importance of an individual's responsibility to create meaning in their own lives, and said the responsibility of philosophers was to deal with questions of human existence and human emotions.

I remember clearly the day I first heard this term. It was the first day of Drama 2 in my Junior year of high school. Schmid was always doing cool things at the beginning of the school year (yoga. believe it.) and having these deep psychological discussions focused on theater, and most of the time these attempts resulted in a whole lot of inside jokes. This particular day we were sitting in a circle talking about all the shows we were doing that year,and somebody brought up Moliere, and somewhere in the conversation about french theater Schmid looked at our own Trevor Blair and shouted," Oh, you existentialist!"

I had only a vague idea of what that was. And then Senior year rolled around and like a geek I got really into character analysis. And we had all these discussions on existentialist theory in AP lit while reading Crime and Punsihment. And I talked about all this with Schmid and he started bringing me piles of scripts to read. (Equus. " It's a great psychological study, but it should never be produced.". or UP. Not Kevin and Mr. Frederickson but the story of an inventor and his family and how commits suicide, only it's very subtle. "What? He killed himself?" "Yeah, that's the red wave across the stage at the end, Amy!" "Huh.") This is how I ended up sitting in Schmid's office talking really loud about the nature of human existence on a regular basis. Somewhere in this exploratory period of my life, I realized that I wasn't good at anything that was purely factual. (math. seriously.) I am only good at things than can be analysed and interpreted. I have to be able to find meaning in it, or I just can't make myself care. Like how I don't give a crap about parabolic functions. Maybe I would be good at it if I could just convince myself that it would ever matter in my life.

You know those moments when you read a phrase, or someone says something, and you feel like you got smacked in the face with the explanation of something you've known all along but didn't know how to explain? Last semester, my brilliant English professor was explaining why he never gives topics for the essays he assigns. He said, "All writing is an argument. Writing about something  that has no meaning for you is a waste of effort. The only things you should write about are the things that you feel like you have to stand up and scream about. I can't tell you what moves you. Figuring it out is your job. Once you do, write about it."

Obviously, this guy's preferred medium is writing. And I totally understand that. But when he says writing, I think it is safe to substitute anything that makes a statement of something that moves you. Acting, composing, writing, speaking, really anything that involves a creative process, is something you should want to stand up and shout about. So here I am. An existentialist amateur writer. Someday I'll write books about all those things I want to shout about.

In the meantime, I'll take lit and theatre analysis classes. And maybe someday some Theatre teacher will discuss my books with some kid in his office and yell, "Oh, you existentialist!" 

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thank you for validating my existence, you lovely person!