As I continue to live and slowly die (depends on how you look at it), I’m beginning to realize the specific moments when I become pulled enough by gravitational forces to write. Now is one of those times as I come across the crossroads of 1) Marx and communism 2) Einstein’s theory of relativity and 3) Ken Robinson’s talks about education.
Well first, where did all of this come from? A part of the reason why I was so intrigued by Einstein’s theory of relativity is because I couldn’t understand it. But after watching a few Youtube videos, I kind of get it, and it’s nothing like I originally thought it was.
Before Einstein came up with relativity, physics was mostly based on Newton’s laws of motion, one of which was the law of inertia. An object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.
“Objects” such as an apple or a desk or a laptop can be observed, measured, and quantified in terms of speed, velocity, weight, mass, etc., but what about people? How do you “move” people? Can a person “move” him or herself?
The difference between an object such as an apple and a human being such as Steve Jobs is, well, many things, one of them being consciousness, and within this consciousness, a sort of will. A will to live, a will to thrive, a will to overcome, to achieve, want, desire, design, create. This “will” is like an engine that allows people to not simply be acted upon by outside forces, but be self-motivated, like a rocket with a powerful (or weak) engine inside of them as opposed to an asteroid flying through space.
Will, however, requires fuel, a finite resource. Therefore, if our trajectories in life are met with much opposing resistance in the form of forced labor, life becomes a continuous battle of will versus an opposing force. Will eventually becomes depleted.
Marx’s ideas regarding communism talk about the alienation of the worker. Basically, human beings are removed from what we are naturally supposed to do because of economic factors and capitalistic drives. Few people possess the power to buy the labor of many people, and the labor in production creates alienation in the producers, the workers, because the work is sold as a commodity, not as an art that is borne of creativity.
As I am writing this right now, I feel compelled to write because I am deeply curious about the topics mentioned in the beginning. However, if you paid me to write, I would not be as interested or motivated. In fact, I would find it laborious.
Right now, I am tasked with creating a writing course for aspiring college applicants-the focus is on personal statements. I have complete flexibility over it and in theory it is very exciting for me. This was supposed to take place in an office while I was in China, but in order to renew my visa, I had to come back to the USA, and wait here. While I am here, I am not paid for my work. But I am expected to complete the task. So should I feel compelled to do this work? Would you do the work?
Simply put, when you pay someone to do something they already enjoy doing, interest diminishes, as in the cases with kids and puzzles or coloring or something like that (in an experiment).
So here I am, proclaiming my love for writing and yet, unable to come to terms with the semi-injustice of not being compensated for it. So I have become somewhat inert. I couldn’t WILL myself to do something I would have naturally gravitated towards doing if I simply were not…compensated for it. Isn’t that paradoxical? But it’s actually not so simple.
So how did I compensate for this lack of fuel for my rockets? I basically tried to do everything like making that course without actually making that course. I read about writing, I wrote about writing, I stayed in libraries for long periods of time. By ASSOCIATION I was doing what I was supposed to do without actually doing it. That’s how I justified it in my mind. THIS is one of those “tasks”. I’m not designing a writing course, but I’m writing, which is my mind’s way of coping with the dissonance of the human condition.
Therefore, I have come to love and hate a thing at the same time. So I guess the answer is yes. Yes you can love and hate a thing at the same time. Because a thing rarely exists at the most fundamental form it can be. In other words, everything can be broken down into many different parts. Some we love. Some we hate.
I hated physics in high school. Out of 7 AP courses that I took, it was the only one that I didn’t pass. It was the only course in high school I got a C in, I shamefully admit. It was a course that I cheated in, I even more shamefully admit. (I wasn’t a very good cheater I suppose, to get a C even though I cheated.)
I was not the only culprit, however. Probably more than half the students in my class cheated. Why? I can’t speak for them, but I fucking HATED the teacher.
This guy was the embodiment of laziness and unprofessionalism. His handwriting was atrocious, he was NEVER prepared and just rambled on and on about disjointed topics, and loved to play favorites with his students. His tests were arbitrary (and handwritten, which was very illegible). For a science that required such precision, his class was anything but.
It’s strange how we can hate things by association. I hated that guy so I hated physics. I hated the Boston Celtics so I kind of hated Paul Pierce for a while. I hated being poor so I started hating private schools. It was simple.
But the truth is that private schools are not, by themselves, evil, (almost natural actually, given the social conditions we live in-but I digress…evil and natural are not necessarily mutually exclusive phenomena), Paul Pierce is not such a bad guy, and physics…I actually love physics. But it took me so long to kindle this interest. To even go near an idea remotely related to the idea of physics was to be sucked into the gravitational pull of a black hole of hatred. But as time passed, I slowly became de-sensitized, and I began to notice a pattern emerging from myself.
When left to my own devices, I would listen to Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku talk about the universe, the big bang, and suddenly, out of nowhere I would find myself with this compulsion to investigate things I formerly hated by association. Things like…calculus, electromagnetic waves, and…Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Einstein (or some other genius) said that if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know it well enough. Let’s see if I understand relativity well enough.
Basically, everything is in constant motion RELATIVE to each other. You’re always moving, I’m always moving, and even laptops and apples are ALWAYS moving. But because we’re all on earth together, apples and laptops with no movement look still, but actually they’re both moving, just at the speed at which the earth is travelling. And the earth is orbiting the sun; the sun is orbiting in the Milky Way system, etc. etc. So the perception of movement is RELATIVE to your position in space. To the apple, the laptop is not moving. But to the sun, both of them are moving at the same speed as earth (that’s some damn good eyesight).
Furthermore, as you get closer and closer to the speed of light, you appear to be slowing down because of time dilation. (Let me think about this…my brain is hurting.)
So imagine you’re in a moving train and you’re throwing a ball at someone at 60 mph. To you it looks like 60 mph but to someone else outside of the train it’s 60 mph plus the speed at which the train is travelling. So there’s a difference between your perceived speed of ball and my perceived speed of ball. If you magnify this…wait why does time SLOW DOWN if you’re moving FASTER, towards the speed of light?
Ok, that’s not important. How I got to this point is more important. THE QUESTION is important. My NATURAL, INNATE QUESETION borne of CURIOSITY is important. There are no economic benefits of me being interested in relativity. In fact, it comes at an economic cost, which is the opportunity cost of me being able to do something that could generate money.
But relativity has a gravity of its own. I naturally WANT to learn about it because I’m for some reason inherently curious about it. I’m pulled by the lure of satiating a desire to know as opposed to using my WILL to quell the desire for money. Whereas gravity is natural…will is finite. Therefore, in the end, nature will prevail. And we should therefore work for passion and not money. There, it’s that simple (if we use the comparison of will vs. gravity), right?
However, humans are endlessly complex and have this powerful ability to overcome nature, drives, instincts, and force. What really obfuscates our perception of reality is when we are presented with a societal structure that we are born into, but don’t inherently understand. We know the rules but we don’t know why they exist. We run the race but we don’t know why we’re running. We live a life and after some time, forget what it feels like to be alive.
In our world, work is synonymous with labor, which is synonymous with toiling and sometimes, even slavery. But where is the delineation between work and life? If you didn’t break it up into two distinct mental constructs, then you would simply have existence. Work IS life. So is leisure. So is learning. So is everything.
But it’s not. We live in a system that has forced us to use our will beyond our capacities, and to unquestionably obey the mechanisms of our capitalistic, money-driven world. This is part of the reason why the education system is broken, as proposed by Sir Ken Robinson.
The system was borne out of industrialization, of factories and laborers, assembly lines and production plants. But it’s extremely outdated.
I really want to end this with some kind of weaving together of the ideas of communism, work, education, and relativity, but the other part of me feels this overwhelming sense of epiphany. In writing this, I feel like I got out of the matrix. I kind of understand what is happening to me and why it’s happening to me. And with that, I can kind of control the extent to which outside forces (such as money and social comparison in a capitalistic dollars and cents world-dictate my life). But the choice…the decision, in what to do with my life…is mine.
I want to develop my writing to the point where I can weave grand ideas together more seamlessly than I can at the present moment. I can’t do that yet. So I guess I’ll end it like this.
To what extent do you use will as opposed to gravity?
What are you innately curious about?
Who do you love? Who do you hate? What do those people love and hate?
What are the forces acting upon your life? Your decisions? Your choices?
What do you want?
And this…will be the beginning of my writing course. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. 5WH. Seems marketable.
Lesson 1 of personal statement writing-who are you?