Tuesday, January 20, 2009

25 Random Things as Revealed Through Facebook's Forced-Confession Meme (and now in legible format!)

25. First, and by way of concession, I'm pretty sure it's not possible to say anything random. I'll just have to try to write a list of things that have a logic that I can't discern.

24. I've been together with Heather for a few years shy of half of my life now. We met our freshman year of college and got married right out of college (I was 20). I wouldn’t have had it be any different – we’ve really grown into adulthood together and I feel like we understand and are committed to one another in a way that requires that kind of shared history. But I know that we were also extremely lucky, since we could have just as easily (actually much more likely) grown apart as we grew into ourselves. And if either of my kids tried to pull a similar move, I would do everything in my power to stop them.

23. Speaking of kids, Elena and Jasper mean the world to me. I especially love how much they love each other, and hope that never changes. Not much more to say about this, mostly because they are too exhausting to say much about.

22. I come from an large family. I'm the fourth of nine (7 boys and 2 girls). There was a brief time when I shared a room with four of my brothers. All of my sibilings are brilliant and a little infuriating, opinionated, well-read and shade somewhere to the left of eccentric. I am both invigorated and a little depressed when I get to spend time with them now that we’re (mostly) all adults. Lots of us have literary aspirations, which only make things worse (on the logic of the family see the serial blog novel that my sister and I have been writing on and off again – lately mostly off. You have to read the comments b/c that’s where half the story is).

21. When I was around 7, I bet my older brothers 20 pounds of chocolate that I would be a spy when I grew up. I still regularly consider joining the Foreign Service. When I was going through one of my periodic disenchantments with academia and when it was timed with one of Heather’s periodic disenchantments with lawyering, I actually took the Foreign Service exam – passed the written test, but failed the newly instigated –- and I’m not making this title up – Qualifications Evaluations Panel. It’s a little like being told that the Committee to Award Achievements in the Field of Excellence has turned you down. Oh well –- I’m giving academia another serious go instead.

20. Before I wanted to be a philosopher (my aspiration from 14ish on), I wanted to be an archaeologist or a classicist. Simultaneously, and to this day, I also wanted to be a spy (see above), and a writer.

19. Even though (probably because) I love to write I have terrible writers block (it grew out of my conscience which speaks to me in the voice of my mother). In addition to the aforementioned often interrupted collaborative serial novel, I have fragments and the beginnings of a novel (a Mormon murder mystery), a screenplay(based on a philosophy text, so it must be good), a collection of poems, two philosophy books and a couple of articles, innumerable short stories, quasi-autobiographical scribblings, and a sort of novel masquerading as a religious text and centered around the re-emergence of Prometheus (I wish I were lying about that last one –- it also features the great philosopher/poet Sapphocrates). Some of them are more complete than others, but I don’t have much confidence any of them other than some of the philosophy stuff will see the light of day.

18. I tend to be prolix.

17. I have a long-standing adoration of Greek mythology and classical culture. When I was 7 I spent a lot of time trying to work out how both Greek myths and Mormonism could be true. I had decided that Zeus must have been an angel, but never really worked out the point of the difference (see Hölderlin’s Der Einzige). When I was 12 I decided that I wanted to write a historical study of how the Roman Empire paved the way for Christianity. I started to do “scholarly research” –- my dad’s a professor so I had access to Brigham Yong University’s 5 million+ volume library –- and quickly became overwhelmed. I’ve been afraid of scholarly research ever since.

16. I’m a little bit afraid that I’m going to be highly disillusioned with Obama and/or (and more likely) the Democrats for some stretch of the next 4 years. This makes me anticipatorily sad.

15. Although I come from a very religious background, I am always genuinely shocked when I learn how foreign atheism to most Americans (and how few Americans are atheists). It just seems like the common-sense, default position to me now…

14. Despite my atheism, I have a deep and abiding love for a folk-figure I’ve invented: Unca’ Jesus. Unca’ Jesus is the version of Jesus who quit the whole Messiah thing in the Garden of Gethsemane (“Father, thy will scares the bejeezus out of me...”) and went back to being a middling carpenter (he has permanent scruff in place of a genuine beard). There have been talks of a sitcom featuring his bumblings (which he gets out of through reluctant use of his Jesus powers), but they haven’t gone anywhere.

13. I wish I were more patient, and less ambitious. I’m getting there.

12. I recently entered an aphorism writing contest, and I really want to win.

11. I once gave a total stranger the shirt of my back. Granted, it was because this total stranger was highly intoxicated and in my car and I wanted to get him out so I could go home and go to bed. But still…

10. When I was 15 I spent a semester living in Mexico (my Dad was doing research there while on sabbatical). My parents gave me way more freedom in exploring the cities we lived in (1 month in Mexico City and 4 in Saltillo, now known as “Little Detroit” thanks to NAFTA and it’s proximity to the U.S. Border . . .) than I think was rational. I am grateful to them for it.

9. I started taking college classes when I was 11, which gave me the nickname “Doogie Howser” –- too bad I didn’t know that show.

8. I became interested in philosophy through two things that happened pretty much simultaneously, around the time I was 14: For some reason, I decided to start reading Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Around the same time, I had the chance to attend a seminar on Hellenism that Martha Nussbaum was giving to the faculty at Brigham Young University. Imagine my joy when I encountered Heidegger and discovered that I could mix my classicist snobbery and love of existential provocation!

7. My greatest temptation is dilettantism (so much so I’m not sure it’s really such a bad temptation…)

6. I am a technophile.

5. If left to my own devices, I would probably spend all day surfing the Internet and playing video games. Sadly, I so rarely have the time to be left to my own devices.

4. I am a horrible manager of time. For example, I’ve been trying to multitask: writing this list, cleaning my house, getting all the gadgetry and gizmology involved in WebCT for this semesters courses up and running, and putting license plates on Heather’s car this morning. All of this is just preludes to the things I’d really like to do (except this list, which has been delightful –- combining my love of the Internets and writing with my hatred of being laconic), but I won’t make it through the multitasking stuff.

3. When I started writing “Heather” in the previous example. My fingers wrote “Heidegger’s” on auto-pilot. I only just noticed that I had written “putting license plates on Heidegger’s car this morning” after I had taken a hiatus to work on cleaning the house.

2. I am overly proud of the diversity of things I listen to on my IPod and on my Pandora station, despite the big gap of no country (sorry, not for this old man) and not much hip-hop. I do like hip-hop, though I don’t know much about it. And I just really can’t bring myself to like much country (although I do like some pop with subtle country influences).

1. I let my ideological commitments sway my aesthetic judgments more often than I’d like to admit. I also let my aesthetic sensibilities commit me to more ideologies than I’d like to admit. These two statements are not contradictory –- they are dialectical.


Jennette said...

RE: #19 - You forgot the TV show and movie we created when I came to visit right after Elena was born. "Quebexas", a sitcom in which Texas and Quebec form their own country and speak French with a Texan accent (I believe the theme song started out with "He's French, he's Texan! But they live together in har-mo-ny!"). And the untitled M. Night Shaymalan project written by us, with the twist at the end being that it was actually written by M. Night Shaymalan. I vaguely recall something hilarious about him hiding in the bushes as well.

Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

Ah, Quebexas. I still talk about it all the time. But I forgot there was a theme song...

And I totally remember the Shaymalan movie.

DOCTOR J said...

Hey, I miss your posts. Come back!

Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

I know I've been horribly remiss. I blame my students. And the real-estate market.