Days End

The tylenol is definately wearing off, and I’ve still got 3 1/2 hours of work left.. Yikes. Costume or not, I may be the most frightening thing in the hospital this evening.


Spent the morning at the school with MK. Despite my own intuitions that I was getting sick, I decided to meet her 2 hours before I actually had to be in class (though, looking back, this may have been feverish delerium) to help with some concerns she had about an upcoming critical essay. I’m not sure if I’m the only one out there who sees this – but whatever happened to writing instruction? I will be the first to admit that I may occasionally have a dangling participle here and there, and I’m a comma splice queen (or so says a mean award I got) but overall, I know what I’m doing. I know how to formulate a thesis, build an essay outline, transition, you know, all those good things. It may not be entirely evident in the casual blogosphere, but I do alright.

MK confessed that not only had she never actually made an outline, but that she didn’t know how. No idea of the conception of introductions, bodies, relating your subject matter back to your thesis – nothing. I’ve read some of her papers, and her ideas are good! She’s not stupid, she just has absolutely no clue how to actually go about writing them in any cogent, comprehensive form – and I find this troubling. I had drilled into me how to make an outline, in fact not just how, but the necessity of one. The importance of organizing your ideas prior to actually writing them out is important. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for free expression and great quips and such and such – but the best advice that I ever received about writing philosophy essays is the importance of simplicity. The ideas themselves can be complex enough, let your writing, word choice and explications support them in the simplest way possible. What should lend excitement to an essay is the validity and nature of your ideas – not the fact that you know how to use “exegesis” in a sentence. Is this actually just not a topic of instruction anymore?

I have absolutely no problem with starting thesis statements “In this paper I will show” – no problem at all.  And I don’t know any proff who does have a problem with that, nor any academic writers who I have witnessed time and again use that exact phrase in widely published and lauded journals. In fact, at no point should you feel coy in expressing that thesis, I’m not going to give you points for hiding it from me. Sadly, this is apparently not a common sentiment. I had a rather loud (and annoying, not going to lie) collegue pronounce that “We are not intelligent enough, with complex enough ideas, to have to state what they are.” ?#@ Pardon? I don’t think you have to be a Nobel Prize winner to lay claim to clearly and explicitly stating your purposes.. do you?

I ended up spending an hour with MK actually just going over how to write an essay. How to build an outline, the necessity of relating your ideas back to your thesis, the fact that fancy language does you no favours. I think it helped. Though in the end I was sweating out my ears and thinking maybe I’d go as a character from Love in the Time of Cholera.


Haven’t done terribly much else today other than that, school and work. J just called and he’s feeling better (damn him) so tonight may not be as painful since we’re both not feeling like a cesspit of bacteria and bits of death. Maybe the alcohol will burn out any remaining germs. Right.


1 Comment

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One response to “Days End

  1. One of my teachers in high school once said:

    “If you have to say ‘In this paper, I will argue that ____,’ you basically just told us that you are unable to express your ideas clearly. Or, in other words, if you are a good enough writer, your thesis will be clear and illuminated by neon lights saying ‘I AM THE THESIS!’ ”

    Yet, I don’t agree that using that statement makes you a bad writer…however, I use it rarely because I have the delusion that I can write thesis statements. I always make about three people read my opening paragraph and see if they can tell my arguments, though–it’s a good sanity check.

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