Bread and Butterflies, it’s a Mad World

I was watching this movie, Agora, yesterday and it got me thinking.

Not so very long ago people owned people. Some still think they do.

Not so very long ago women weren’t considered human. Some still think they aren’t.

Not so very long ago people thought the Earth was flat. Some still think it is.

Not so very long ago people were killed for their beliefs. Some still are.

When you stop and think about how very fast things are moving now, and how short the human experience has been in the known history of the known universe (known . . . wow) it makes you think about what things will be like in the future.

I have radical ideas. I believe all life is equal and important. Wow. That is insane. That can get you killed. It can get you beaten up, discredited, committed.

When I was watching this mostly historically inaccurate work of fiction  ( . . . ?) yesterday, and I was feeling very connected to the heroine Hypatia, I realized just how dangerous it is to think.

I realized that I think a lot. Well, no, I’ve known that for a while, but I guess I realized just how much more I think about these things than many people. It’s difficult to put into words exactly what I am thinking. Partly because it is, as they say, a tangled web.

It all seems to come back to the rabbit hole for me, though. That there is this philosophical rabbit hole that I see as heavily related to Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration, and sometimes people follow a white rabbit and find that little hole. Some of these people take one look at it and run the other way, refusing to acknowledge having ever noticed it or even its existence, while others, like me, plunge cautiously in. Others, still, dive right through. Brave souls.

I’m living around the second of Dabrowski’s five levels: Unilevel Disintegration.

When I realized that, it both frightened and comforted me. I looked specifically at the outcome of hanging out in this mental state. Namely, psychosis and suicide. Two very real, very scary possibilities for me, thanks in part to epiphanies like the one I had yesterday. Sometimes it seems like it would be so much easier to just give up, but so far I can’t. Sometimes I worry I will slip away, but I fight just as hard to stay connected.

Because Hypatia fought. Because MLK fought. Because Mother Teresa and Ghandi and Da Vinci and Einstein and Madam Curie and Shakespeare and Helen Keller and Rosa Parks and Churchill and Buddha and Jesus and Confucius and Mozart and Princess Diana and Douglas Adams and Lewis Carroll and so many many millions more fought and fight and live on and touch(ed) lives and move us and some of them would be appalled to be included such a grammatically terrible sentence, but my point is that you have to be crazy. You have to be half insane and you have to dive into that rabbit hole and you have to be patient.

Because change takes a long time and it happens so fast.

I look back and see a mad world that I am glad I didn’t have to live in and years from now generations of our future will look back and see a hard, cold world that they might not want to have lived in. Yet I see joy and happiness and I just want it to keep slowly getting better.

“Hail to you psychoneurotics, for you perceive sensibility in the insensibilities of the world, uncertainty in its certainty. For you are often as conscious of others as of yourself. For you feel the anxiety of the world, its limits and its false unlimited assurance…For your fear of the absurdity of existence. For your awkwardness, for your transcendental realism and your lack of daily realism…For your creativity and your ecstasy, for your maladjustment to what is and your adjustment to what ought to be. For your immense possibilities not yet actualized…For what is unique, original, intuitive and infinite in you. For the solitude and the oddness of your paths. Hail to you.”
— K. Dabrowski


I miss school– even the books without pictures.

The best thing about college, for me, was the ability (in fact, requirement) to take varying courses outside of my chosen disciplines. I studied English and Dance at university. Dance because I’ve been in love with dancing since I was small. There was no doubt in my mind that dance would need to be a part of my life for as long as possible, and, upon graduating high school, I knew I loved working with kids, so I saw myself as a teacher. It was my intention to get my BFA in Dance and a bachelor’s degree in some form of education, preferably elementary.

After my first semester, I realized that the two degree programs weren’t terribly compatible and it would take me 6+ years to finish, which wasn’t something I really wanted, especially since my scholarship only covered five years. So I thumbed through the course catalog and debated heavily between Philosophy, English, and Spanish. I’ve loved writing my whole life, and I love language. I decided on English with the intention of teaching high school some day. I ended up with an emphasis in creative writing, because I apparently can’t get out of the artsy side of myself. 😉

So here I am, working in retail and teaching dance classes to make money while I pursue unpaid to barely paid performance opportunities. I don’t write too much, at least not formally, but I still read and write a bit. I read nearly constantly. I can’t say I read books cover to cover. My reading isn’t easily quantified, but I read blogs and articles online, and I pick up random books and read bits and pieces until my mind wanders off on a new topic.

I’ve been out of school for a little over a year, and the what-am-I-doing-with-my-life question keeps popping up again and again. This post was spurred by my attempt to google studies or disciplines that encompass both the Humanities and CS-STEM. The problem is I love to learn. I like to put the puzzles of the universe together. I like to go down that rabbit hole again and again and see if I can’t go deeper or in a different direction each time.

I realized, my last year of college, so close to graduating that there was no way I could justify changing or adding a major or minor, that I loved linguistics. I saw linguistics as a melding of science, math, language, and culture. Just that sentence alone gets me excited. Now that I’ve been out of school, longing for that intellectual stimulation, I’ve started looking into linguistics and found myself traveling down the path of cognitive studies. I’m particularly interested in psycholinguistics (or neurolinguistics, I’m not sure exactly which is the one or if there is a professionally recognized difference). I wonder, though, if there are any other cross-discipline studies that encompass the many areas of scholarship.

I just like recognizing that everything is interconnected, and I want to find a way to explore that. Studying the human mind, consciousness, the way we think and behave, that touches on all sorts of things: philosophy, anthropology, history, math, science, physics, sociology, etc. I love that. I don’t know what I could possibly to do with it, or the why or how of it, but I do know that I need it.

I wish there was an easier way for people like me to find their passion. Personally, I just want to be sure. My problem was that, with every course I took, I could see myself doing and enjoying a profession related to it. I have too many interests, and I know the majority of people aren’t like that.

Most of my friends and fellow classmates complained about being forced to take classes outside of their interests. I didn’t understand that. Or, at least, I understood, but couldn’t relate.

Alice asks, what’s the point of a book without pictures? You can look at this in several ways of course. She’s a child, and it’s a very child-like thing to say. However, what’s the point of symbols without something to symbolize? What’s the point of sticking to one form of expression when there are so many others? And what’s the point of being so committed to one way of thinking, one road to travel down, that you miss the many other ways of seeing the same thing and the many other paths, or not yet existing paths, that interconnect and explore that world?

This is a conversation I’d like to have.