Ichabod's site

September 30, 2013

When I was a sophomore in high school, I decided I would join the military. From the start, my parents were opposed, but I never fully understood why. I sent away for applications to West Point and Annapolis. At the time I had never spoken to an active duty soldier. I did not grow up in a world where the military exists. The smartest people, the ones who I cared the most about, saw it as below them. My parents certainly do not regard the military as a place where intelligent people go and may even believe that it's a waste of a powerful brain. We negotiated, and I eventually agreed that I would be locking myself in, closing doors on myself, if I went to a military academy, because I'd have the opportunity to pursue ROTC in college. I joined the nearest battalion when I arrived on campus as a freshman. I fulfilled the commitment, which is tremendous, for a year and a half. I then discovered OCS, officer candidate school, which would allow me to commission as an officer in the Marines. I stopped showing up to ROTC soon after. I didn't say anything to the captain, and I kept all of my gear. About six months later I finally got up the courage to apologize and return my uniform and supplies. He told me that about half of the cadets who quit do the same as I did. I have very fond memories of ROTC -- the people I met there and the experiences we shared. The captain saw the best in me and wanted to ensure I was doing what was going to make me happiest. I never liked the Marines. It was clear from early on, they were stretched to fill a quota for candidates. I respected the captain, but I never found anything like an intellectual environment I could embrace. I drove home from one pool function -- a monthly fitness gathering -- with a student who criticized gay people for spreading AIDS and attacked the ROTC battalion that I had been a part of. I enjoyed the branch rivalries, but I saw a profound meanness in this kid. The level of commitment and dedication those cadets demonstrated -- for a cause we all shared -- did not deserve ridicule. I always assumed he was not representative of the Marines, but he certainly verified that I would be walking through intellecutally trecherous waters for many of the remaining years of my youth if I joined. I think I realized for good today that I will not join the military after I graduate college. It's difficult to look at my life. The military dominated my thinking about the next 4-8 years of my life for so long now, acknowldging I'm free feels unnatural. I want to be a writer.

September 30, 2013

It's 70 degrees and sunny. I can't imagine a day that I'd prefer to this one. It's a cloudless day, so my head is in the sky. I don't know what it means to feel free, but I have to believe I'm as close as I've ever been.The Herald wrote an article today about Coursera, quoting several professors who taught massive online classes over the summer. About 200,000 people signed up, about 100,000 were active at some point and about 6,000 people received a certificate indicating the completion of a class. The professors spoke of the high quality of the student body that they engaged with. One met up with students in Boston. They were surprised that the level of discourse rivaled and at times surpassed what they encounter at Brown. Families took classes together. The dissenting voices cames from professors and grad students worried about the potential for online classes to reduce opportunities for faculty. "Everything must change in order for everything to remain the same." It's slightly painful that professors, servants of knowledge, would not notice just how radical these services are. I also have to suppose that expanding the scope of education from people age 18-25, who have tens of thousands of dollars to burn as well as the appropriate background, to all people around the world regardless of their economic or personal circumstances will create some demand for professors. Ivy walls cannot block out a cloud.

I'm pretty lost personally in the sense that I have only a broad heading to set my direction. I know it points away. I heard that people on the other side of the world are the same as us over here. I heard dozens of people were murdered in Nigeria -- students -- but I did not bat an eye. My trolleyology reminds me that empathy and distance are positively correlated.

Is it immoral to sleep with someone who enjoys Ayn Rand?

October 2, 2013

I want to recall the look one particular girl gave me the other night while we were hanging out. She flashed it a couple of times. It had also been a long night. I had told her more about the superficial difficulties I have experienced in my life than I have ever told anyone.

The first time she was sitting on top of me, while I sat in a chair. I'm amazed how a look can be burned into my mind, but it is nearly impossible to capture with words. Photography certainly has value, though almost none in hindsight. She looked like how a beautiful, young woman might look as she says goodbye to a bull before it enters the ring on the day of a fight. It contained no element of victory, no sense of reunion. But it was not dominated by sadness. She knows that I am already dead. I will have my day in the sun, and people will cheer, because I will fight for them. Then, it will be over. She looked at me the way I imagine a lover kisses her freedom fighter before he faces the firing squad. I wanted this look the way I want to be David Foster Wallace. I know that I am naive, but I also do not know who I am or who I want to be. She believed in me for a moment. If you make it, you will not survive, but you will live without melancholy or happiness or politics. She was promising me a life free from compromise where I feel real emotions, have big ideas and know true love.