Being at times slightly better at navigating class material, I am sometimes asked questions.
It may be a quick clarification for a passage in a novel, or an explanation of some concept in chemistry, or tips in computing a tricky integral. ” Most of the time, the conversation will end quickly, and the inquirer will leave with nothing more than the added knowledge that some languages are written in different directions.
But there is a chance, perhaps, that a fisherman on the bank will notice the current slowing; if not, all is well: the debris can feel it slowing. To be sure, the river exists, but its current is more chaotic; it is harder, then, to spot a pronounced thread.
But one context in which I daily encounter it is what may be termed “educational desperation”.
Intellectual curiosity can mean seeking useful information; however, research is only half of the experience.
It is important also to use one’s creativity, to apply one’s learning to bring about something new.Though I would not discover the works of the author Ōe Kenzaburō until much later, I can see now that I was in the process of being uprooted by what Ōe calls the Ambiguous: a dissonance engendered by two contradictory impressions.This particular incarnation of the Ambiguous occupied me for two years, and for these years my only contacts with Japan were conversations with my Japanese mother, and the Japanese school that I attended on Saturdays, which was steadily becoming for me an annoyance.It would be wholly dishonest to say I have dealt with the problem well; but in my personal experience I have seen transformations of my thought, whose culmination isn’t so trite as “I have gained useful experiences from both cultures”!But allow me to declare that I will approach this topic from the more fragile, Japanese side.But (if the continued anachronism is to be pardoned) Ōe had spent his life in Japan, so for him the Ambiguous was unavoidable; for me, the situation was quite different: having spent half of my life in the US by this time, I saw myself a refugee, a vehement critic of that derelict nation, who through reason alone had justified the superiority of the country with the global language.But a slower change came in the autumn of last year: I began to renew my interest in Japan.Note that I don’t necessarily agree with all of what’s said below anymore (hence the belief tag). Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.Thanks to KL for the extensive feedback I received while writing these essays. Having lived both in the United States and Japan, I have suffered the common problem of balancing one’s identity: whether to stay essentially in one land and occasionally poke one’s head out to say hello to the other; whether to play the eclectic magician and pull from both roots the cure to the disease of nationalism; whether to proclaim one’s allegiance to humanity and humanity alone, thus avoiding the question altogether.By being a stubborn stone in the river, that is, by quietly assisting those wanting to discover and understand, I believe I accomplish something important. Why do you want to incorporate our interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum into your undergraduate experience? Bertrand Russell wrote in the prologue to his Autobiography of three passions that guided his life: love, intellectual curiosity, and pity for the suffering.In this sense, “contribute” becomes genuine, and becomes something I want to do in high school, university, and beyond. In educating oneself, although all three of these passions are important, one’s focus does become more intellectual.