I had great professors in college that were witty and challenging, and some who I didn’t bother setting my alarm for. Some professors like to make you think, others don’t care they just want you to know the material. And there’s that third category that pops up sometimes of professors who do want to make you think, but only about how brilliant they are.
My ethics professor was this third kind of person. He liked to pose moral quandaries and no matter what was said he wanted to poke a hole in the other person’s argument. One could say he was trying to make us critical thinkers but he didn’t give up until everyone agreed with him or just stopped trying. He liked asking vague questions then judging our character based on the answer. One question was would you rather see a play or eat a fine meal? The play is supposed to prove you’re a thinker, and you value the important things in life, but I picked meal because my idea of a great meal at the time was crab cakes and I’d take that over an unknown play anytime.
I once got asked if a person who bought a gun and bullets and went to shoot someone was guilty of the crime even if they stopped beforehand because they wouldn’t be able to get away with it. The answer he was looking for was a sin in the heart is an actual sin, but my answer was no. Attempted murder alright, but unless he pulled the trigger, I wasn’t willing to call it murder. I gave up once I started getting a lecture about Christian teachings, most of my ethics and philosophy classes turned into religion classes instead.
Of course, I could have had a worse teacher. My best friend Megan used to text me in class about what her professor was saying. The one I remember most was the lesson about how it’s okay to eat animals because they can’t feel pain. I thought she should have debated that one since its pretty easy to call bullshit on that but she went the smart ass route and muttered that abortion must be fine then so she was glared into silence for the rest of the class.
There was a bright side to my ethics class and all the boring classes and self righteous teachers I encountered in college. I wrote instead of listening to them. There was a whole chunk of time where my only choices were listen to someone drone on or get some writing done. It was probably one of the times I was most productive.
A lot of my ideas happened like this, sitting spacing off in a class, and a lot of them have grown since I’ve been out of school. Right now I’m working on a pilot that I thought of in that ethics class. However, at one of my last screenwriters meetings I got a kind of reality check. A writer there has been in the business for over thirty years. He’s sold dozens of scripts. One was used. And he didn’t get to stay on any of the projects. I’ve been working on one of my ideas since sophomore year in that class. It would be absolutely heartbreaking to have it sitting somewhere unused. Or to have it turn into something that I don’t get any input in. I’m trying to get used to this, even though it makes me nervous. I suppose the brightside would be that someone bought it at all. The reality is that even if my scripts do get bought, it’s still unlikely they get made, and once they do, it’s even more unlikely that they’ll make it to the point where they get six seasons and a movie (I’m having Community withdrawals). I know this is the reality, I just prefer not to think about it. I don’t really know what to do about it. The only answer I’ve come up with so far is “oh well”, and then I just keep writing.
I’m not sure what that ethics class taught me. The professor thought separation of church and state was an injustice. But hey, if my script is bought some day at least I’d get some use out of that class afterall.
Aspiration for the day: I’ve got nothing to do all afternoon. I need to clean something. Ugh.