but w8 so do i
Here is the main essay that I wrote for my UChicago application. It is very cheesy and uses too many rhetorical questions, but I think it somewhat describes my outlook on life. It was very inspiring to write at the time, and I've stolen ideas and sections from a prior personal writing.
Prompt:"What does Play-Doh™ have to do with Plato?" - The 2011 University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt ListEvery May, the University of Chicago hosts the world's largest scavenger hunt. As part of this year's hunt, students raced to find the shortest path between two seemingly unrelated things by traveling through Wikipedia articles.
Wikipedia is so passé. Without the help of everyone's favorite collaborative internet encyclopedia, show us your own unique path from Play-Doh™ to Plato.
Play-doh. Playdo. Playto. Plato! Only a few letter tweaks stand between Play-doh and Plato. The clearest link between the two words must be their spoken sounds. Nearly homophonic, Play-doh and Plato could each be easily mistaken for the other in conversation. The minute change of a consonant can completely transform the meaning of a word.
Such is the peculiarity of language. Language is grammar, syntax, diction. Language is the stringing together of words to convey an idea. Words are arbitrarily designated sets of lines on a page. Words are simple vibrations from a human larynx.
Why then, do we ascribe so much importance to the words that we use, and the words that others use towards us? The answer seems to be of course, that they are our only manner of communicating abstractions and complexities to our fellow human beings. But do they really communicate the things we wish to communicate? Words hold no innate meaning. When we choose a word, we do not choose what it means to ourselves, but rather what it has meant to the reader or the listener as well as anyone else who has ever used that word.
Consider the color red for instance; when I use that word I know what I am describing. Surely though, I cannot be the only one who has wondered whether everyone sees the same colors that I do. We may call them the same names and associate them with the same things, but how can we know when someone else sees red, whether they view the same color? We can define red as light wave of about 650 nanometers, or the color of the blood in our vessels, but what do we actually see? Furthermore, what we see is not only constructed of what is in front of us, but how our brains decide to muddle it with the rest of the information that is already filed.
These contemplations demonstrate the subjectivity of the world. When we take this into consideration, the facts that we take for granted begin to falter in their conviction. Reality is something that wavers, if it exists at all, and I am sure that Plato would concur. Of course, I cannot mention Plato without referencing his allegory of the cave. We know not what truth is. After all, there is no way of knowing whether we see reality, or its mere shadows. One who believes himself to know truth must be mistaken and, on the contrary, knows very little. For all we know, we could be merely brains responding to chance stimuli in glass jars.
With this insight, there are some questions raised. There are always questions raised. If nearly everything conceivable in this world is potentially false, then what is there that we can believe in? What is even the point of believing? As with most things, we have a few options here. We may: 1) ignore this revelation; 2) decide that there is nothing real in life worth living for; or 3) take it in stride and attempt to find something that is real. Plato philosophized comprehensively on the topic of the apparent nature of our reality.
In Plato’s Book X of The Republic, he gives the example of “bedhood,” the essence of the ideal bed. Once that bed is actually created, it is impossible for it to be a true bed because of the limitations of the physical world. A painting of that bed would unavoidably be filled with an artist’s preconceptions and interpretations. A child who attempts to mold Play-doh into a bed fumbles in futility. Let the child dream of his perfect bed, let him decide what it means for himself, but the physical world would never let him shape it. The only truth can be found in the child’s own idea of the bed, the intangible “bedhood.” Truth is found in the intangible. It appears to me that there is indeed something that remains when material and outside input are stripped away. The human experience is filled with emotions and sensations. These are the truest and most essential components of being alive.
I have dabbled in many different activities, arts, and classes during high school. When I play badminton, I feel the rush of endorphins and the closeness of my team around me. When I paint, I feel an overwhelming flow of energy depositing onto the canvas from the brush from my fingers. When a student I’m tutoring has an epiphany about combining like terms, I feel a surge of pride and contentment. I’m finding that the more I experience, the more I want to experience. We only live once, and I want to use my life to learn everything I can. Each time I am enlightened with something new, I feel something new.
The change to jump from Plato and Play-doh is small and insignificant. The world is so much more. What is true are our sensations and feelings. I expose myself to more and I feel more. I want to think more, to see things beyond face value. I want to see from all perspectives and delve deeper. I want to let go of the words, I want to let go of my preconceptions. The truest parts of life are found in those fleeting time-stopping moments. It is the rush of endorphins and the stillness of breath and the tingle of fingertips. It is what Play-doh or any other medium will never pin down. It is what I felt when visiting the University of Chicago, and what I could feel over and over again if I might be lucky enough to attend. Plato might say that a true college cannot exist in the material world, but I beg to differ. I have found little pieces of truth in so many places, and I cannot wait to find even more.
Posted by T at 11:08 PM
The annotations on these are horrible and ridiculously annoying, but if you want to get the full experience and hate life to the extreme you should leave them on.
I'm very much personally offended by a lot of what they say here partially because of my own sexuality. I knew I would hate this but I had to watch it because I need to break out of the bubble that I sometimes am in that most people are truly open-minded and reasonable. I just can't live under that illusion when shit like this is on mainstream television. I almost can't quite believe that this is real and have to laugh through the episode to keep myself sane.
This show is disguised as progressive and open-minded and Tyra is definitely marketed as a role-model figure for girls, and I think it's worse than blatant anti-feminist stuff. At least the latter is easily identifiable and obviously destructive, while this show is marketed as helpful and woman-empowering. I'm embarrassed to admit that I used to look up to Tyra too, and would watch her show every day when I came home from middle school. I'd hate for anyone, especially a young girl who already has so much subliminal oppression in her life, to feel like certain sexual desires she has are wrong. The annotations proclaim that Sasha's videos promote pedophilia, which is ridiculous. If she and her fans are into group sex and age play that's great for them as long as no one is getting hurt when they don't want to be. Consensual sex experimentation truly is empowering, and I find it horrendous that people who don't understand it cast such judgment on it and condemn it. No one seems to acknowledge that these fetishes actually exist and can be acted upon in safe and fulfilling manners.
I really respect Sasha for her courage and her intelligence and ownership of her career choices. The prostitute on the show did not enjoy her time in the sex industry, and that's fine, but she shouldn't assume that everyone else's journey is the same. If you want to truly try to eradicate misogyny and garner respect for women, you should do it by respecting people's choices as long as they don't hurt anyone, and acknowledging that porn is not realistic.
Notice also that the assumption is that porn viewers are perverse dirty men who like to watch women being disrespected. It says nothing of men in the porn industry, or even women who watch porn. God forbid we allow for the possibility that women have sexual desires! Categorize me as a humorless self-victimizing femi-Nazi, but as long as people whose thoughts are consistent with this show exist, I can't not be one.