Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Freedom and Education

I picked up two texts yesterday: Freedom and Culture by John Dewey and Language and Myth by Ernst Cassirer.

I really enjoy such works. I enjoy operating on this level of thought. And reading through these two items makes me miss college. I remember, after a day in my freshman year in high school, riding home in the back of the car stating that I wanted to go to college. My mother seemed somewhat surprised by this. Maybe because I had never mentioned it though I had thought of it quite a bit previous. What else could I do? It's difficult for me to work in many environments. Being on disability has really hurt my ego (not necessarily pride, but that, too). While it has freed me from some things so I can concentrate on writing every single day, it's a terrible blow to me mentally. Money has always been a concern for me to a fault. I constantly stress over it. I lose sleep all the time over it. I hate it. I want it. Money, that is.

But money is somewhat of a temporary solution to my problems of living. If I really get to the heart of the matter, really get down to my own desires, I've always wanted my degree. I worked 5-1/2 years fruitlessly to obtain a two-year degree.

I miss school. I had thought I would try to apply for UM-Flint this year. I only have about 1-1/2 years to finish my degree... in art. Painting is horribly expensive though. For the $10 that I would spend on a single tube of paint I could feed my family for a week with groceries (I really could, too... rice can be your friend). If I go for another degree, I'm looking at probably about 2 years, maybe more. It's difficult for me to justify that.

I've ALWAYS wanted my degree. I've always wanted my education. I love colleges and libraries. I have always been able to see myself spending my life in Academia, but I can't. I don't have the money.

This is why people join the military. They see it as their only option. When your broke-ass poor with little or no future other than possibly college through loans and such, you just cannot see yourself justifying the exorbitant buy-in without a guarantee occupation making enough money at the end to pay off those debts. If you're poor, why go to school just to become more poor?

I know, the price of an education shouldn't be measured in dollars and cents. Well, the colleges sure seem to do a good job measuring it that way.

I really miss school. I wish I could study metaphysics, epistemology and classical literature.

But I'm just a crumb-bum. I'll see next time 'round.

I now leave you with the opening paragraphs to Freedom and Culture and a small scene from Soar (sci-fi novel I'm working on):

FROM "The Problem of Freedom", CH. 1 OF Freedom and Culture
"What is freedom and why is it prized? Is desire for freedom inherent in human nature or is it a product of special circumstances? Is it wanted as an end or as a means of getting other things? Does its possession entail responsibilities, and are these responsibilities so onerous that the mass of men will readily surrender liberty for the sake of greater ease? Is the struggle for liberty so arduous that most men are easily distracted from the endeavor to achieve and maintain it? Does freedom in itself and in the things it brings with it seem as important as security of livelihood; as food, shelter, clothing, or even as having a good time? Did man ever care as much for it as we in this country have been taught to believe? Is there any truth in the old notion that the driving force in political history has been the effort of the common man to achieve freedom? Was our own struggle for political independence in any genuine sense animated by desire for freedom, or were there a number of discomforts that our ancestors wanted to get rid of, things having nothing in common save that they were felt to be troublesome?

"Is love of liberty ever anything more than a desire to be liberated from some special restriction? And when it is got rid of does the desire for liberty die down until something else feels intolerable? Again, how does the desire for freedom compare in intensity with the desire to feel equal to others, especially with those who have previously been called superiors? How do the fruits of liberty compare with the enjoyments that soring from a feeling of union, of solidarity, with others? Will men surrender their liberties if they believe that by doing so they will obtain the satisfaction that comes from a sense of fusion with others and that respect by others which is the product of the strength furbished by solidarity?"

FROM "Soar"
"What's this? Does our Brutus have a brain? Can he do more than wield the knife?" Standish smiled emphatically.

Led hesitated with answer.

"Come, come, my boy. We are free to speak here. No Guard will swoop down from the mountain to purge the world of our ilk. Here I am king and master and shall forever be. The false arms of the Lord High Mayor cannot reach here unless I first grant permission. Tell me, dear boy, and tell me true: Can you read?"

Led nodded only.

Standish stood, laughing. "What a find you are! A brute, a beauty and a thing of intellect. How could I ever hope to be so lucky?" He came to stand next to Led and peered at him with something akin to greed. "Now tell me: What have you read?"

Led lowered his head and shrugged.

"Don't make me work for this. Tell me and tell me out-right. You cannot be afraid. Here we are in a time of regressive technology and I've made you into a man with wings, how could your simple confession of reading be any worse?"

Led looked up, "The last thing I read was The Prince."

"Machiavelli? By the gods, you do have a brain!" Standish smiled once more. "It should be no surprise it's one of my favorite texts. What think you?"

Led wasn't surprised a man of Standish's position and wealth knew how to read. "It was an old thing. I got it from-" Led quickly looked at Standish, then continued, "Well, I got it from someone. It's pages were falling out and the edges were torn. It smelled of dust and wet paper that had dried. I kinda liked the smell."

Standish shared Led's smile.

"But the text itself I didn't like."

"Why would that be?"

"It was good until the end. The last part revealed it all to be a shallow ploy. A pitchman's call. A scam. Another sale tailored for a mark."

Standish leaned back and looked curiously at Led.

"It was just another advertisement."

Standish smiled. "Maybe so, but that should not abolish it's worth, should it? There are some very good things elsewhere in the text."

Led shrugged and stretched his wings. "Maybe."

"Not all the pursuits of money are unholy, my dear boy. And not all the advertisements are pursuits of money. Machiavelli, while unhappy in his new life, had nothing but luxurious time to pursue anything he wanted. All his cares were tended to. He may not have been rich nor in a position of power as he had once been when he wrote The Prince, but he was no street urchin either. He was a gentleman of the country."

Led nodded. "I know."

"Then why your disapproval?"

"I'm no mark."

Standish thought on Led's wounded pride the book must have brought to him, then thought of what he had said about money. "Again, it's not always about money. Some pursue pride and immortality. Some strive for better things for themselves or their society. What make you of them?"

Led shrugged. "It's all the same to me: the pursuit of money or the pursuit of fame. Even lashing out in violence. Whatever. Everyone does everything for the same reason."

"Please enlighten me."

Led thought a moment before he spoke. "Validation."

Standish thought on this, began to speak and stopped short because he knew. Because he knew.



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