A Path Forward Emerges From The Darkness
May 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
[Location: Perched over my laptop on a shitty but serviceable bed in a small hillside favela overlooking the historic center of Ouro Preto, Brazil. São Cristóvão, Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brasil]
I tried listing my current obsessions or mental fixations in a numbered and ordered format. I stopped, because that seems to rigid right now. As I’ve been increasingly grappling with philosophical topics that really strike at the root of what being human means I’ve been noticing my creative side is growing. I no longer look at the world as something that can be categorized scientifically. I’m even beginning to question the existence of objective facts.
I’m questioning the very foundation of my value structures. Interestingly, I’m seeing parallels between what I’m coming to grips with now and some ideas that I’ve read about extensively in the past. I’ll save the details of those connections for some time in the next year when I’ve contemplated these topics much more.
I’m being intentionally vague because using details requires more thought than I’m willing to do right now. Also, because it makes it easier for me to sort my ideas out or at least communicate them to myself. Which brings me to an ancillary but incredibly important revelation from my studies:
The power of logos.
Logos, or the spoken word. Communicating ideas is the best way to fully understand them. And in the brief instances where I’ve introduced ideas I’ve been contemplating to other people I’ve immediately learned things about them that I hadn’t considered. For instance, that they’re wrong. Or that my arguments in favor of them are not strong enough. Or that my approach when making a given argument is not effective.
I’ve also begun to realize that the reason the corporate world never excited me was that I was essentially competing in a dominance hierarchy that does not appeal to me. Striving for professional success is something that drives some people. I was hired into a position that was looking for a young candidate whose drive for professional success would translate into a positive for the team and indirectly for the entire corporation. But after a very brief period of time it became obvious that my long-term aspirations and those of the corporation differed on very fundamental grounds. I quit that job because I realized that. I didn’t have the words to explain that to myself at the time. But I do now.
The difficulty is finding the long term aspirations which best suit my own passion. Luckily I have three things which I can use for tools toward whatever it is that I set my mind to: the ability to think, write, and speak (well). I realize that there are number of things that I need to do over the next five years or so to stabilize my life and orient myself.
First I need friends. And not just any friends. I have those. But I need to find people that have the same ability to think, write, and speak. I can still have friends that I drink and do drugs with. But I need find a couple people that I can sit down with and have serious conversations. I need to find a way to take intellectually stimulation from a solitary exercise to a discussion with others. In other words, I need to exercise the logos.
I need to read. A lot. It’s become clear to me that there’s a bare minimum number of things that one needs to know about history, philosophy, and western culture in order to even sit at the table when important ideas are being discussed. I need to immerse myself in the greatest works of western culture and soak in what they mean to me and to our culture. Nietzsche. Jung. Hume. The list is long. And the reading is tough.
Last, and it appears we’ve come full circle, I need a meaning. And if reading provides a meaning that can orient a good chunk of my personal life then perhaps a career is simply a specific subcategory of meaning. That is, I need to find an aspect of humanity that I can work toward and specialize in that brings me immense satisfaction. I’m considering several options and almost all of them involve me going to graduate school. I’m unsure of this option because of the expenses I would incur. However, I think my technical background and my interest in certain topics may make me a great candidate for a number of specialized fields. I’ve been considering the idea of something as simple as owning a hostel or a small farm and the lack of impact I would make on humanity makes me suspect I could never fully embrace that lifestyle. It’s becoming apparent that academia or an academic oriented field may be the only place that I can feel at home.