The Beginnings of an Education

Blame it on Henry Adams: I have finally been convinced to start a blog. His personal chronicle, The Education of Henry Adams, is one of the most rewarding volumes I have picked up in a long time. Through reading about his engaging educational sojourn, I have become increasingly aware of my own inability to accurately remember when and where I internalized various concepts and even how I came to believe certain things about the world. How did I react when I first learned of the inherent tensions in Thomas Jefferson's writings and beliefs about slavery and freedom? When did I first read Thorstein Veblen, and how did "conspicuous consumption" become part of my personal lexicon? Who introduced me to Frederick Jackson Turner, and did I immediately agree with his overarching thesis about western expansion and the nature of the United States? These, unfortunately, are questions I cannot answer with certainty. In the future I hope to have no such difficulties – this blog is my personal attempt at historical memory. 

I have also decided to write with candor and (hopefully) humility about the state of my own education. Assessing one's education is a dangerous and probably futile task, as the would-be assessor must try to avoid the twin emotional pitfalls of crippling inferiority and satiating overconfidence, all the while using a rubric imbued by the very education he or she seeks to critique. Undertaking a critique like this in a public forum also invites a comically large fear of looking stupid. Hopefully starting from the quite lowly position of grad school applicant will mitigate that fear and allow me to honestly exult in my own discoveries, as hackneyed and obvious as they may be.

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