Today I am mostly…
Thinking the unthinkable.
Our exams didn't really matter and it was the things we learned about life the universe and everything that really determined the value of our time at univerity?
Pre-justifying your failure with, semi-idealistic, lamentations about the state of global education systems and the capitalist valuations of specialisation – bodes ill for your forthcoming exams.
In just over a week I will be very drunk.
In a bizarre twist to my university experience, in the midst of a neverending flurry of deadlines, I have rediscovered my passion for learning.
I like knowing things, and when I'm in the mood for it I'm not bad at digesting them and adding them to my knowledge banks. I can feel the little factoids lining up inside there enhancing my Knowledge Man (Campus hero) powers. Sadly for my degree classification, I have never quite mastered the tricks of style that seem to enable these facts and insights to express themselves in a form that lights the eyes, of overstressed professors engaged in an orgiastic surge of marking.
It is an acknowledged fact of many professorial types that the time spent close reading student essays approaches 0 with unnering regularity. Evidence can be obtained from the mouths of the more loose lipped lecturers and the often math.random() relationship characterised thusly:
Effort devoted to essay ≠ resulting mark
Thus we enter into an aesthetic competition of sorts except the ideal is not beauty, the ideal is a professorial style.
My researches today led me to a point that seems central to the whole of my academic university experience. Confusion.
As I have mentioned before on this electronic delivery device, I do a strange combination degree known as Philosophy with Computer Science. Its a course which at its heights was followed by two people, and its depths by just one.
This paucity of intellectual peers has led at times to a feeling of uniqueness, at others a feeling of lonliness and distance. Never having been able to share my university academic experience completely with anyone, I have led a nomadic existence. Often where others have shared common lecture times and gaps inbetween I have been rushed on to another lecture and thus found myself limited in the connections I was able to make early on. Though I must point out I was hampered in these efforts by bizarre time tables that have varied from lectures scheduled at 9 followed by 12 followed by 6 leaving an disjointed kind of day. I will refer more to timetabling shortly, but I would like first to continue my study into my own academic/social development.
It must be said of me that I was never a naturally outging or forthright person; in my friendships I move slowly. Yet at every turn I found myself isolated in this direction, my first year halls managed to place me amongst almost noone who studied Computer Science (Except Stef, 'Hey, Stef') and definitely noone who studied philosophy. As many of you will know it often tends to be the first years in your halls who do your course that you hang around with.
Timetables. The law of the majority determines timetabling at Warwick. I have seen with my own eyes the nicely scheduled timetables of the lawyers and computer scientists. The horrors that have lain in my own timetable would give them nightmares and inspire homicidal rages. I have endured lectures scheduled one after the other on one side of campus and then the other meaning that most of the lecture is missed, I have endured rooms that have should never have seen use as a teaching environment, I have endured clashes between 'options' that have eliminated all meaning of the term option (any module you like so long as its black), clashes between core modules and a range or subjects that would engender weeping in many. I could have fought my corner more strongly but all attempts in that direction were met with indifference, mostly I endured it alone.
This situation did not embitter me too much, though it certainly made the prospect of group work much more daunting. Instead after a period of gestation it fostered my natural tendancies towards self-reliance. Looking back now I can see how the need to find my own way in the environment of campus, while initially hampering me, has lent me mental skills and fortitudes that began to flower resolutely at the end of last year. Dedicating myself, and myself alone, to the tasks all around me.
I began to believe in myself.
Yet, I have drifted from the central point. Confusion. As I have outlined above, I felt at times like an anomoly, wrapped in an enigma. Philosophy is the enigma, as a department it is listed as a 'social science' and indeed thats where its building is reassuringly located. Scratch a little deeper though and you'll notice that the Learning Grid lists it as an Art and of course you get a BA at the end of your course. Further still and you'll observe that the first scientist who gave science the primacy it has today was named Socrates. He was a very unaesthetic man wanting to rid philosophy of all trace of the artistic, instead questing ever onwards for the truth, and yet is seen in popular discourse as the father of philosophy. So philosophy as Science? My reading today was into the Nietzschean vision of a philosophy inbetween but not connecting Art and Science a place for them to come together, opress one another or work in harmony.
Confusing enough I would have thought, but studying my degree I must also learn concepts of mathematics; methods of proof, set theory, trigonometry, matrices, and the like. Am I, in fact, mathematician?
Still I am confounded again; as I am called upon to study history, and the effects of the past on the world today. Am I historian?
An then I find myself contemplating the future and the approcahing singularity where the power of machines to think out grows our own and their computational power grows exponentially. Will I be part of programming and creating this new epoch?
Who am I?
As Jackie Chan so memorably asked in his seminal film.
As poetic as it would be to leave you hanging there. I think I figured it out. I'm just a bit late in doing so.
What I want to do is make computer games and create beautiful things. So I'm doing it.
I am creator.