SPidge Tales

Monday, December 17, 2007

No One Ever Had An Original Thought

I have never had an original thought. That’s right. Everything I’ve ever said was already formulated by greater minds. I am like that Harvard asshole with the ponytail who tries to impress a girl by embarrassing Ben Affleck at that bar in Good Will Hunting. No worries, I don’t need Matt Damon’s Will Hunting to tell me:

“Were you gonna plagiarize the whole thing for us? Do you have any thoughts of your own on this matter? Or do you…is that your thing? You come into a bar. You read some obscure passage and then pretend…You pawn it off as your own idea just to impress some girls and embarrass my friend? See the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you’re gonna start doin’ some thinkin’ on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life. One: don’t do that. And, two: you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin’ education you coulda’ got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.”

But, again, I’m no genius. I’m no Will Hunting. I’m not even a Zack Morris (1502 SAT score). Sure, I’m semi-smart. My SAT’s were a 650 math, 620 verbal, and my GRE’s were a 710 math, 580 verbal. I can outwit your average meathead, but I’m just a routine deja-vu. It’s all been said and done before.

I believe Marxism is morally bankrupt and intellectually flawed. Marx may have said all history is class conflict, but it just ain’t true. Is this my own conclusion? No way. I can thank Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft and his book Socrates meets Marx.

The Enlightenment? Its account of morality is flawed and unsustainable. We have two options: embrace Nietzsche and his critiques or, even better, go back to Aristotle. Whose brilliant theory is this? I wish it were mine, but it belongs to Notre Dame philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, and his book After Virtue.

I believe without God, anything goes. “If there is no God, all is lawful.” Either I made this idea up, or I took it from Dostoyevsky (his novel The Brothers Karamazov) and Nietzsche (his tract Thus Spoke Zarathustra; “God is dead”).

I believe in the small of a woman’s back and opening presents on Christmas Day, not Christmas Eve. Thank you, Kevin Costner and Bull Durham.

I believe teacher certification should not be required, and anyone with a bachelors degree is qualified (not necessarily capable, but definitely qualified) to teach. That’s my brilliant theory or Nicholas Kristof's. Take your pick.

I believe in the the abolition of the designated hitter, but this personal dogma did not emit from the eminence of my vast mind. It grew in the brittle brains of every grumpy old man who thinks baseball was better when there were only 16 teams and no free agency.

I believe the Mets are the new Red Sox, which may be my own idea, but the idea of “this is the new that,” “X is the new Y,” “40 is the new 30,” and all the other new things is not my idea, but a tired cliché that I unfortunately borrowed. And, my use of pop culture comparisons with sports was a new, unique idea…about ten years ago, when Bill Simmons got famous taking the fan angle as a sportswriter. Now, there are a million terrible rip-offs (like me) doing the same thing as Bill Simmons, but only not as well, since Simmons is a sports-fan genius, a pioneer, and knows what he’s doing (and, yes, I’m kissing his ass. If you type in “Bill Simmons Sucks” on Google, there are 78,900 links. I’m counteracting the ever-expanding circle of jealous haters out there).

There are very few Great Ideas. Rare is the Original Thought. And, with the change in the history curriculum, there may be no more. Yes, the history curriculum has changed. History used to be the study of cool things like wars, great men, and the way these leaders shaped the world and affected history. Now, the Great Man theory of history is being de-emphasized, and historians focus on boring things, like social structures from below, and what the common people were doing; running their farms, selling their goods, and all the other bland everyday-life stuff that we all have to do but don’t really care about.

Yet, when you look at historical change, what propels it? Great ideas. Great inventions. Great leaders. Aristotle gave us logic. Alexander the Great conquered the world. Einstein discovered the theory of relativity. Ford made the Model-T. Copernicus gave us modern astronomy. Descartes started modern philosophy. The Founding Fathers (brilliant men all) gave the world its greatest-to-date experiment with representative democracy. Yeah, everyday life happens with the common people. But, history is propelled by Great Men. They give us those Original Thoughts we debate and discuss.

But, I have never met any of these Great Men. One, most of them are dead. And, two, I have yet to meet any of the few great living ones (like Stephen Hawking). Even my college professors—as smart as many of them are—they weren’t giving me their own theories, but the theories of pioneers who went before them. Is greatness even possible? Honestly, I’m afraid not. I’ve met many humans, and humans just aren’t capable of much more than thinking about great inventions and great ideas.

Every real great invention and unique thought, I must conclude, come not from earth, but from aliens, who, time to time, come down to earth, and implant these ideas in the minds of certain men, or, in some cases, inhabit the bodies of men and give off these great ideas (for the record, aliens gave Isaac Newton his great ideas. Albert Einstein, however, really was an alien. What, are you surprised? Aliens may be brilliant, but they have no sense of hair fashion). The aliens, who look after us, come down from time to time and give mankind a new invention when they feel it’s time for us to advance again. If they didn’t, we humans would start worrying about the lack of new technology, and we’d start killing each other. It happened during World War II. In 1945, the aliens realized they needed to stop our imminent self-extinction, so they gave us the atom bomb to end the war. In retrospect, they could have given us a giant fireworks display, but even they didn’t yet know the power of a split atom.

But even this—this great theory of civilization-advancement—is not mine. The Alien Support theory (that’s what I call it) comes from my dad. He made up this theory and used it farcically (I think it’s a farcical theory. He never really lets on whether he really believes it. He also has a theory on how the moon landing was staged. So go figure) in a grad school paper for one of those piece-of-cake education classes. As Will Hunting might say (in a different context; I know, I’m stretching it), “How bout ‘dem apples!”


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