Monday, September 01, 2008

Life is living

Well there's a scary mug for yah!
Is life ever not full? It feels extra thick and juicy right now. Jennifer and I have been attempting , in our free moments, to make heads or tails of the political frenzy/circus looking for kernels of seriousness under the media hooplah. They are there. We call and await news from family in the gulf states. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. These other events pale in significance against those backdrops, but nonetheless they are defining of our little but valued existence here at home. Some good news and some bad news.

The good news first: I have largely hidden from view the recent Qualifying Exam which the Philosophy Dept. gives to its students after they have completed most classes and before they can be admitted to candidacy. I hid news of it largely because I didn't want folks checking in if I didn't fare well. The test is set up so that the student must study from roughly 5oo BC to the present and be broadly familiar with major trends, figures, arguments, spanning the loosely held Western philosophical corpus. Generally one picks some of this up in classes but is invariably forced to cram as much as possible into the head prior to walking into a seven hour session on test day. There one is asked to write answers to 3 of 9 questions that have been selected confidentially by faculty in as much detail, cohesion, and accuracy as possible. I offer an example of one of the questions I selected just for fun. It sounds esoteric but I caution anyone from equating esoteric with seriousness or importance; not that they are antithetical just not equivalent or necessarily related:

"What is Hume's argument concerning how, or whether, one can have knowledge of cause-effect relations? Explain how Hume's account differs from, and can be understood as a reaction to, Locke. How does Kant in turn reply to Hume, and what is Kant's own account of causal knowledge?"

I typed roughly 25 pages ranging the three selected questions and left with a fried mind. I received my results this weekend and it turns out I passed with "distinction." This is the highest grade possible and I was thrilled to have met and maybe exceeded the expectations for candidacy qualification. There are few milestones or indications of success at this stage and this was quite a pleasure.

Now for the bad news. Some degenerate lacking seriously in moral fiber stole my scooter from the driveway this weekend. We awoke Sunday morning with an empty carport, filed a police report and are now trying to remember that statistically these events have to happen to someone and there is nothing except getting on to do about it. We are not wealthy and this has of course placed us in a difficult situation as it would almost anyone. We are moving on and will take more care in the future. But it certainly changes the game a bit. It changes my attitude about my stuff, at least the stuff that is rather crucial to our not ending up on the street. It alters my perception of the environment we are living in...maybe it needed to be altered.


Anonymous said...

With distinction!!!! I am so proud, but of course I am not surprised. Excellent work Daniel!

Life will throw you a few curves every now and then, and I guess losing a scooter to a heartless thief is horrible unless you lose your roof or your life in a hurricane! Thanks so much for taking care of Jennifer's dad's roof in advance of this horrific storm. He suffered no damage thanks to your hard work.
Much love from your very very proud mother-in-law.

William Kruidenier said...

Congratulations on your "distinction" -- I take vicarious pleasure in your success.

And a pox on the scooter-stealers, one and all!

Scott said...

Hell yeah and damn!

Lesley said...

That is really, really good news.
...and really, really bad news.

Hopefully with your passing these exams, you can relax a bit and coast to the finish line? I know that is how I felt after my comprehensive exams. Defending your dissertation should be a piece of cake after that?!

Heard from my family in LA and all is well for them after Gustav. Thanks for calling to check in yesterday Jen.

Love you all.

David said...

Congratulations on the exam score, Dan. Along with everyone else...we're not surprised. But proud.

You should post pictures of your scooter so that we can all be on the lookout. We get a lot of stolen bikes, scooters, and cars in Philly. Actually, there seems to be a lot of stolen everything here. Sorry to hear it, man. I have an extra skateboard here if things get really tough.