Monday, March 22, 2010

Being studious

 1. Assiduous in study; devoted to the acquisition of learning.
{dag}Const. in, of.
    b. Of the nature of, pertaining to, or concerned with learning or study.
    c. Of a place: Devoted to or suited to study.

 2. Giving careful attention; intent on a purpose or object, heedful, solicitous.
    a. with agent-n.
    b. const. to with inf., of, {dag}for (rare), {dag}in.
    c. Characterized by or exhibiting careful attention.
    d. Planned with care; studied, deliberate.
-OED

I've always been hard on myself. I was rarely disciplined so I learned  to discipline myself. Having artistic desires I am well in tune with the impossibility of ever succeeding at perfection, and the failure to apply myself as I should.

This year I started joining study groups. I decided to go easier on myself. I would prepare for the study session. Go to the study session. Take what I could and review it, and be done. I practice lowering my standards to something manageable. I believe that if I set achievable tasks for myself I am likely to become a stronger and more studious person. It has not worked so far. So far I have simply managed to achieve less. My standard seems to be connected to how well I achieve. If I am aiming for perfect I will get 75%. If I am aiming for 80% I will get 70%. I should aim for 90%, then I might get 80%. It really does not work. I am supposed to be a philosophy honours student. I darn well know I'm bright enough, I just can't seem to work hard enough.

In Latin 101 I learned the word estudiar and loved it. This was a word loved by the Romans. It appears as studious around 1350. Studious women are to go to the convent where they may satisfy their love of knowledge. It never goes away. Part of the problem might be the religious connotation. I cannot find the original latin use, and as such I am for lack of a pagan understanding.

I lived with a highly religious girl for four months. She played the piano six hours a day, which was not enough. She worked at night as a nurse. She took classes at the university. Sometimes she even went for jogs with me! I know how she managed it. She has a God.

My beliefs do not work that way. I have always linked religion, writing, and study. I do, however, not have the support of the two thousand year Church behind me and that is a powerful thing to lack. Furthermore I cannot replace God with myself. I like myself well enough but there is no respect and certainly no love. If only I finished that novel, if only I worked a little harder, one more hour, one more reading, one step closer to finishing an essay, then it would be different.

My solution today was to go searching for the concept of studiousness. Maybe if I understood it I would become it. There are very few blogs that discuss studiousness, and even fewer websites. I was redirected to studio. I liked the Oxford English Dictionary 'devoted to the acquisition of learning.'

I am devoted to philosophy!

Philosophy is everything I want to do and be. If I have a soul I have given it to whatever god is the philosopher's God, and I consider giving away one's soul to be immoral so that ought to be a very impressive sort of devotion. My trouble is I am devoted like a dog. Philosophy is my master and I shall do as it says, but it says I must think for myself and that is not what I want. The other definition of studious is 'characterized by or exhibiting careful attention' and this is certainly not me.

People think that I am studious. The people close to me who see me making tea, and who go for walks with me, and see me fall asleep after 15 minutes of trying to read a book think that I am studious. I always assumed that that was the image I gave off, but really if studiousness is devotion to study I am devoted. Everything I do, no matter how flawed or misguided it is, is for the aim of becoming a better person and a better scholar. I am weak of will but I am as a dog, utterly loyal to a day-dreaming master. Half of my life I spend in justification and excuses for my failures at careful and deliberate study, but when I do apply myself and manage to understand something of the world those are my favourite moments.

But isn't that like the woman who tries to write a novel? She sits there staring at the page and cannot think of a thing to do. Is she a writer or just a fake? What about when she cleans the house? Makes dinner? Cleans the fish tank?

Yes, it is like this woman. This woman gets a phone call from her agent. He wants the next chapter. She disappears for two days and there is the next chapter. This is what I do. It is not a healthy way of doing things but there is progress. I am moving forward. I am learning more. Maybe this is a handicap I most accept. I want to be perfect. I never will be, but I want to be. I'm going to aim for somewhere beyond human conception and fail every single time.

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