Am I Being Stupid?

One of the things that first attracted me to the Space Studies Program was its inter-disciplinarity. I liked the idea on paper, but in practice I figured that it would be lip-service and that the bulk of the program would in fact consist of science and engineering.

But no, as it turned out. To my pleasant surprise, I am getting a full education about the business, policy, and medical aspects of space travel, as well as the various applications that satellites have to our day-to-day life.

And then, of course, there are the Humanities.

Our Humanities lectures have thus far all been taught by an elderly, charismatic and outwardly-cynical curmudgeon from Hawaii, who possesses a talent (common amongst successful Liberal Arts professors) for making controversial statements in a way that forces the class to think. His motto is that “any idea about the future which doesn’t sound ridiculous is worthless.” As I think you’ve probably surmised, I am quite fond of him and his lectures.

But Friday’s lecture even more so than usual. It was an absolute barn-stormer on the subject of the influence of space on art: paintings, dance, poetry, film, television and especially literature.

And there I was, sitting in the classroom, jotting down notes, when it suddenly just clicked in my brain: I want to do this.

I want to study literature academically. Quite possibly as a career. And it occurred to me that in fact, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve felt constrained by ideas of practicality and of course, what other people expect of me. And now, at the age of 26, having just completed an advanced degree in mathematical physics and owing ten thousand dollars in debt, I am seriously considering diverting myself into a completely different (and possibly very difficult) career path.

I suppose that makes me an idiot.

Oh well.


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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10 Responses to Am I Being Stupid?

  1. ladyleahjane says:

    You’re not being stupid. The world needs people to do things that make them come to life, not things which make a living.

  2. zinemin says:

    I am still toying with the same idea. My current plan is to re-enroll at University to become a physics teacher and I am considering studying literature on the side. It makes no practical sense, but the idea makes me smile… I guess it is also what I have always wanted to do. Actually I wanted to study Latin. But the humanities were seen as hobbies for rich kids in my family. So I went into physics and decided for the branch which has least application to real life, as if this would somehow mimic studying something like Latin.
    My sister just told me that a colleague of hers, an electrical engineer, is currently studying literature too and enjoying it. So there are a few of us, although I’d say we are a super-rare species…
    Btw, I think it is so cool that you do this school on space studies. I would enjoy this a lot. Knowledge about these things will be useful for a science fiction writer…

    • ” So there are a few of us, although I’d say we are a super-rare species…”

      Actually, I’ve spoken to a lot of people and what I’ve noticed is that it actually seems to be a fairly common secret wish.

      “Btw, I think it is so cool that you do this school on space studies. I would enjoy this a lot.”

      Well, if you feel like applying to next year’s session in Montreal, it looks increasingly likely that I will be a TA…

      • zinemin says:

        I’ve never met a physicist who wanted to study literature. Maybe I talk to the wrong people.

        • Lindsay says:

          I went to school with a physics-and-theater double major. For her senior project, she wrote a play about a gamma ray burst. It was really good. She acted all the parts, too.

          I had another friend who started out with a double major in physics and English, then dropped the physics, and a third friend who studied math and physics, but also took a ton of language classes, including Latin.

          I myself double-majored in biochemistry and literature. But you’re not wrong about the humanities being seen as hobbies for rich kids … my family saw them that way, too. I wouldn’t have dared to study literature alone; my parents would’ve been like, “Why are you even going to college if you’re just going to read books?!” So the lit degree could be a nice add-on to the STEM degree, a conversation piece, an idiosyncratic bit of flair, but by itself it would’ve been considered an intolerable waste of money.

  3. Erin Cotton says:

    You should study science fiction! Then you could find fun ways to combine your current knowledge with what you want to study. Also, science fiction is awesome.
    There are also plenty of literature resources that don’t require going to a classroom. has a huge list of free online classes, over 40 of which are about literature. If you would be interested we could even watch lectures and read the books for an online series and then talk about them.

  4. Pingback: I Really Don’t Think “Humanities” Means What You Think It Means… | voxcorvegis

  5. Pingback: The Next Exciting Phase of My Career | voxcorvegis

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