Last Week’s Blog: Verbal
Pen to Paper
That night I sat in my den and worked at my desk on the first paragraph. I had been writing it, rewriting and rewriting it, and I still couldn’t get it down to less than a page. I felt that I needed every word to be able convey my opinions on Descartes without losing the message.
At, about midnight, I decided that I really needed to get it done for my after-school meeting with Lady HP. I couldn’t chance not going to some of my classes to work on it the following day – , although I did play with the idea before I rejected it. I finally got angry with myself for not being able to put my thoughts together in less than ten very large sentences (most of which were probably run on anyway).
So I took a hard line with myself. I decided to write one sentence for the hypothesis, five sentences for my points, and one for my conclusion – and stick to it. I still found myself twisting, bending and contorting sentences and words like an act of Cirque de Soleil but by 1am I had finally done it. I had a seven sentence “first paragraph” that I felt I could present to Lady HP without being completely embarrassed by. Finally I could go to bed.
At breakfast the next day I read my paragraph from the previous night and I was quite proud of what I had accomplished. I could that see by making a greater effort, it did result in clearer ideas for my reader. I went to school quite satisfied and happy with the work I had put in the night before and, moreover, I felt I was really learning something about writing. Sadly I also thought that I was on the verge of becoming a great writer – Proust, or Cervantes maybe – clearly the sky was the limit.
I sat down in my office at the end of the day champing at the bit for Lady HP’s arrival. She could see a smile on my face when she arrived. Lady HP’s smile could light up the darkest of rooms and as she returned my grin, she seemed surprised by my enthusiasm. It was going well…
I told her how good I felt about the objective she had set for me the day before, how much I had learned from it and how much my ‘writing’ had improved (in one day, yes I know: in retrospect, I can see it coming too).
“Well, Perran, you are sitting there looking very pleased with yourself. I take it you finished the first paragraph?”
“Yes, in fact…” I handed it to her and then I gushed and gushed and gushed some more about how much I appreciated her help and how wrong I was… I was all but waiting for her to fall off her seat, get up and tell me how wonderful I was, pat me on the back and send me on my way – the prodigal son returned.
She read it to herself and then aloud.
Cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am, was the starting point of human existence for Rene Descartes and the world mistakenly adopted his conceptual model of existence and this was then extrapolated into philosophy and science undermining the foundations of both. First, there is no doubt that greater thinkers such as Aristotle looked at the same information as Descartes and didn’t arrive at the same conclusion for very valid reasons. The ideology Descartes used was itself based on a negative view of life, called Skepticism, whereas an Affirmative approach would yield a much different conclusion and one that was not so flawed. In addition, Descartes uses the ability to think as proof of existence, but many human beings and animals that exist, do not have the ability to think: ergo for Descartes they do not exist. Finally, there is a model that is more indicative of proof of existence that does not negate those living beings that Descartes would not consider ‘exist.’ As a result of fundamental flaws in logic and a more viable alternative model of existence, I propose that Descartes was just leading the world down the primrose path and that other conclusions in the worlds of philosophy or science should be reexamined as a result.
I was like a puppy waiting for a treat from my master when she finally finished and said in a rather matter of fact tone, “Hmm, clearly I should have given you a word limit too.” There were moments of tension in the air – for me. “But that’s okay. This is a huge improvement.”
My emotions went down and then up with each statement. I was expecting elation or something there about, but it was not to be had.
She was went on.
“Okay, for each of the five points you make I want to see one paragraph and only
one paragraph – no more than 150 words each please,” she said looking at me over the rim of her glasses (yeah, I thought, I got the message from your “praise” for the first paragraph). I also want the opening paragraph and the conclusion to be no more than 150 words. You should start by getting your introduction down to the right number of words. Then write bullet points for each of your supporting statements and write each paragraph using the same format I have already shown you.” She got up and gave me back my paper. She then turned to leave the room and told me I had one week in which to complete the assignment if I wanted to take advantage of her offer to give me the average of my first F and whatever my new mark was to be.
I was shell shocked. Talk about rode hard and put away wet…