I suspect your son is wise in his choice to postpone college for now and gain work experience. Of course, we may educate ourselves each and every day simply by reading and putting our ideas down in writing. Formal education is so expensive and the job market is so uncertain. A young person should feel the desire and appetite for formal study and not do it simply because it is expected of us. … See MoreOne may always take one course per semester. I hope that on line study replaces class room study. I knew one unfortunate man who earned a PhD in chemistry and was never able to make a living at it. He was quite happy when he became a computer programmer in the 1980s. I knew another fellow who had 2 masters degrees in chemistry. The 2nd masters was a door prize for being booted out of a PhD program. He suffered from some form of schizophrenia and was never able to hold any job for very long. So much is being outsourced now to other countries. Conversely, there are people who earn medical or other advanced degrees in their own country and wind up in Canada or USA driving taxis or doing some work that does not utilize their training. The half life of engineering is about 10 years. The 1950s was vacuum tubes. The 1960s was transistors. The 1970s was integrated circuits, and so forth. How many are there with MBA degrees who will never re-coop their investment. One should try to be successful in life and self-sufficient but one should also try to be fulfilled. One novelist, Dixon, worked for years in bars and restaurants, writing feverishly each night until he became published. On the other hand, double entry accounting and bookkeeping never seems to go out of style.
It may sound trite to hear Joseph Campbell say several times in that long Bill Moyer documentary to “follow your dream” but essentially that is what many of us do. For a few of us that dream-following leads to fame and fortune through something uniquely innovative. For a different few the quest leads to tragic failure and a wasted life opportunity. And the vast majority of those who remain are fortunate enough to simply “survive” and settle down to the acceptance of some reality of making ends meet and “getting by” in a life where some dreams are actualized and others succeed only in the sense that we gave it our best and are consoled that it was not “the path not taken.” I suppose the worst sort of failure is some very conservative life where we desire little and risk little in exchange for some certain security but die never knowing what “might have been.” Each and every day and year present to us “windows of opportunity” through which if we take action, we pass through into some totally different future while that window shuts forever as a fortress gate sealing us in a better haven or a worse hell. And if we do nothing then that window simply vanishes never to appear again. The made for television sci-fi movie “Cube” is a thought-provoking metaphor for this kalaidoscopic window aspect of life.
Popular psychiatrist David Viscott quipped “The un-lived life is not worth examining.” Psychologist Alfred Adler wrote a wonderful book for the layperson entitled “What Life Could Mean To You.”
Adler observed that the most frequent mistake people make in their lives is not taking ENOUGH chances. Inaction is also an active choice in the sense that we passively allow things to happen.
Adler was such a compassionate man. He refused to use the term “depressed” saying rather that his patients were “discouraged.”
I have my copy of Adler’s book on my shelf. For years my habit has been to jot down important page numbers and keywords in the covers of books. I don’t know why I constantly forget certain words and phrases and have to remind myself. On pg. 72 Adler wrote “Every suicide is a reproach [of someone or something.]“
After one lecture in New York City, during a question period, one student said “Dr. Adler. What of God? What do you have to say about God?”
Adler replied, “If there is a God I would hope that he is please by how I have chosen to lead my life.”
That seems to me all that anyone can honestly say. Kant points to the so-called “antimonies” which can never be proven or dis-proven; one being the existence of some supreme Being.
One famous hospital offered to implement Adler’s methods if he would grant them exclusivity and Adler refused saying in so many words that his life work was for the benefit of all peoples for all time and in public domain (paraphrasing).
All these books that I have read over all these years are my “rag and bone shop of the heart.” I am a failure at life in many ways; a disappointment to many. My purse is trash yet at least my heart is full and filled with things of my own choosing.
Alex, relax. Chill out. It just words. Its just rambling conversation. I made a typo, “antimonies”, which lead me to search on “antinomies” which lead to a curious article by Zizek. I find Zizek curious and different. I am simply quoting excerpts from Zizek which I find interesting. We will all be dead soon enough anyway in a few score years, so I hardly think it matters a lot in the grand scheme of things what any of us think or feel. What does matter is that we express our thoughts and feelings freely so as to pass this burdensome time which oppresses us. Simply because I quote Zizek does not mean I agree with Zizek nor, for that matter, that I am even of the intellectual stature to comprehend Zizek (or Kant or Godel or any number of other giants) as an entire corpus and judge him (or them). Non sequitur is serendipitous.
The Torah tells me that the Jews stole Palestine. They were commanded to do so by the Almighty who designated a promised land for a chosen people. But Moses did send spies to scope out the land and those spies returned with wondrous tales of enormous bunches of grapes. It never occurred to me until just now that sending a spy was a sign of doubting God’s word that the promised land was a land of milk and honey. The wisest advice Viktor Frankl ever gave was to “safeguard to the past” what we value, for no one can rob us of the past.
I forget Frankl’s exact words. I am glad I am old and at the end. I don’t personally see any great hope or future for the country or the world, for the economy or the ecosystem, for education or cultures or governments. Perhaps I am wrong. I hope I am wrong. But either way, it wont affect me much or for long. That may sound selfish and callous but it is one of my few consolations. Alex, you worry too much about whether Kant can be redeemed in the face of relativity. You worry too much about things which only the future will decide, if indeed such things can be decided at all and if indeed there is a future in what Camus calls “that paltry eternity, posterity.”
“…..the opportunities to act properly, the potentialities to fulfill a meaning, are affected by the irreversibility of our lives. But also the potentialities alone are so affected. For as soon as we have used an opportunity and have actualized a potential meaning, we have done so once and for all. We have rescued it into the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but rather, on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured. To be sure, people tend to see only the stubble field of transitoriness but overlook and forget the full granaries of the past into which they brought the harvest of their lives: the deeds done, the loves loved, and last but not least, the sufferings they have gone through with courage and dignity.
“[T]here is no reason to pity old people. Instead, young people should envy them. It is true that the old have no opportunities, no possibilities in the future. But they have more than that. Instead of possibilities in the future they have realities in the… See More past — the potentialities they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized — and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.” (p. 151)