10 August, 2005

Nerdgasms and Responsibilty

I was able to go pick up my books for the new semester today, most of them anyway.  This will be the hardest semester I have attempted, I am taking 17 hours.  I was taking 18 hours, but I ended up dropping Fencing.  They always tell me not to open the plastic until the first day of class, that way if the class is cancelled, I can get my full refund.  I can never do that, though.  There is something inside me that just has to open all my books and skim through them as soon as I get home, like a kid sitting amongst piles of candy on All Hallow’s Eve.  I love even the smell of new books, that is how big of a nerd I am.  Plus, I like to read the first couple of chapters of each of them so that when the professors ask if anyone has any questions, I will know if I do or not.  My classes are:
  1. Introduction to Philosophy (3)
  2. Object Oriented Programming (3)
  3. English Composition and Reading II (3)
  4. Pre-Calculus (5)
  5. Fundamentals of Speech (3)
My calculus class is being taught at another campus (this one in downtown Kansas City) so I will have to go there to purchase that textbook; I don’t mind, though, it will give me an opportunity to recon the layout of the campus prior to the 23rd.  I spent $396 on books and a few supplies (I have stuff left over from last semester), which leaves me $103 for the calculus book, and I don’t think it should cost that much.  I purchased two books to help me with calculus while I was at the thrift store the other day: The Idiot’s Guide to Calculus and Master Math: Pre-Calculus and Geometry.  I got a few extra books while I was at the bookstore, because that is just the way I am.  The line was long and slow, and it wound between the book aisles, and that is like candy at the checkout counter to me.  (wow, two references to candy, who has a sweet tooth?  This guy)  I was looking at the books I needed for Philosophy 110 and then I noticed the stack for Philosophy 120, and they looked interesting, so I went ahead and got them, even though I won’t be taking the class.
One of the books was Nietzsche: Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ, I just can’t resist a little light reading before bedtime.  I have read his Thus Spake Zarathustra but I really haven’t read any of his other stuff.  I read Zarathustra when I was 18, which seems young looking back.  I was talking to my Battery Commander one time about music (it was during the redeployment phase of a large training exercise, when even the hardest corps tend to wax a little philisophical), and how I felt that Steppenwolf had a lot of meaning in their lyrics.  He mentioned that they had taken their name from a book written by Herman Hesse (who also wrote an interesting book about a guy who goes to meet the historical Buddha, titled Sidhartha).  Reading Herman Hesse led me to Nietzsche.
Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman fit nicely with my own attitude towards morality, namely that if there is a moral imperative that I needed to follow, it was that I should become as skilled and knowledeable as I could in every area possible.  I hadn’t gotten around at that time to deciding about afterlife and all that, but I wasn’t dead yet, so it didn’t trouble me to wonder what would happen after life.  All I knew was that I was alive, and that I had certain talents and certain weaknesses; I could either maximize my talents and try to improve my weaknesses, or I could waste my talents and let my weaknesses rule me.  This is one of those areas where, though I knew the right thing to do, I didn’t always do it.  I wasted a lot of my life, and let my weaknesses get the better of me for quite some time.  But I did trudge along, making myself better and smarter and stronger the best I could, with the knowledge that there was no one else to do it but me, and that I alone was responsible for my success or failures.
My attitudes on responsibility set me apart from many of my peers, it seems.  Most of todays society seems intent upon anything but taking responsibility for its actions.  Even our president, who I could argue should be of the utmost moral character, has a distinct inability to admit he is wrong.  They can always find a willing or not so willing scapegoat.  I have for the most part been the opposite.  Like the old adage about being responsible, I have often felt that whenever something goes wrong around here, I am responsible.  In part, that was a result of caring less about the blame and more about fixing the problem.  If I took responsibility for something being wrong, I could automatically assume the authority needed to fix it.  I have what they call ‘survivor guilt’ (which is a fancy way of saying I ask myself why I am still alive when so many other people died) and so I probably have too strict a sense of responsibility.  I know that I can neither change nor save the world.  That is another area where how I act sometimes differs with how I believe, because sometimes I feel as though I should be able to save the world, and it tears me up that I fail.  I know deep down that I can’t, but I do think that I can always try a little harder.

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