Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Existential Reflection on What I Want to do with My Life, Part I

So I didn't get into McGill, where I had applied to do a PhD on "The Fragmentation of English Historical Writing, ca. 1640-1670".

That's not keeping me up at night. What's keeping me up is the fact that I'm kind of glad. And that's worrying.

See, ever since I was in highschool everyone just kind of assumed I'd end up in politics some day--myself included. Throughout University that was reflected in my grades (low) and in my Students' Council positions (high). I tried to learn from the odd mistake, and there were a few people that did their best to not let me forget. (Note: God bless Meg Timney.) Still, during my time in the USC it was taken for granted that I was a politician.

Note this letter to the editor taken from The Gazette:


Sinal won't stir the pot
Re: "Politically Incorrect, Minus Bill Maher?" Nov. 8

To the Editor:

I attended the Politically Incorrect forum moderated by Michael Coren last Thursday, and before the forum started, Coren wanted to put his books up for sale.

However, he was strongly rebuked and told not to do this, and that if any book was sold, the University Police Department would be called. It was quite the debate before the debate.

I'm very interested in knowing why Coren was not allowed to sell his books. Is it common practice for guests not to sell their books or was it special to Coren? And anyways, what's wrong with biographies?

Oh, yeah, on a completely unrelated note – maybe [University Students' Council] Chris Sinal wasn't informed about the title of the discussion before it started, or maybe his skills as a politician are just too refined. Chris, you were the most politically correct, smooth and uncontroversial guy I've ever heard. Congratulations. I'm sure you'll find a great career in the Liberal party.

Joel Timmerman
Political Science II
King's College


Only that's not what happened. I soured on politics. I decided that I'd had enough of the duplicity, of the careful consideration that had to go into everything I said, of the playing people against one another to get what I wanted "for the greater good". It was too much. It's not what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to be an academic. I wanted to invest my life to thought. To helping people and Canadian society. I can't really put into words just how much I wanted, and still want, to be a part of higher education in this country. In a 1975 letter to the General Secretary of the Czech Communist Party, Vaclav Havel described culture as "the main instrument of society's self-knowledge"; "It is culture," wrote Havel, "that enables a society to enlarge its liberty and to discover truth." I aspire to be a party of that creative process through the development of new ideas. Or something.

When this started in 2002, it was a new development. To those professors that knew me it came as no surprise, and they encouraged my efforts to get into grad school. That said, my time spent in early modern history was really kind of an accident. I fell into it.

That was never really a big deal, until two things caused me to question it; not getting into McGill, and the recent work with Ignatieff. Now, the siren song of politics is once again drawing me towards the rocks. Question is, are they any more dangerous than those of academia?

How have these two things conspired to bring about the titular crisis existential? That's for tomorrow, when I'm actually awake.

In the meantime, check out this interesting batch of statistics that I discovered in researching this post:

From the 2003 UWO Gazette Sex Issue:


9. Do you have the Chris Sinal fantasy?

Yes No
HeteroFemales 7.5% 92.5%
BiFemales 9% 91%
Bi Males 25% 75%
HomoMales 33% 67%


It's always nice to know that I'm a hit with the dudes.

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