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My first challenge in isolating my motivation for doing what I do, was to figure out what I do. I know what I don't do: I don't travel to foreign countries and help the impoverished and down-trodden, on the other hand I don't exploit my fellow human. I don’t independently pursue a deeper understanding of humanity through art, literature, meditation or conscious, systematic observation (which I suppose you could call science), but I don’t impose my beliefs on others, and I don’t seek to challenge those with whom I disagree if their beliefs aren’t prejudicial to my own wellbeing and that of the humans around me.

So what is it that I do? I put forth a reasonable amount of effort in the pursuit of an idealized self-image of my own design. This image is the composite of a collection of other idealized images that illustrate the way in which a person who carries a certain title should look and behave. For instance: a “Second Year UCLA Student” should be highly intellectual, open minded and have a tendency to analyze and assimilate his individual experiences as part of his comprehensive world perspective. Similarly, a “Sergeant of Marines” should be in extremely good shape, pragmatic, disciplined, mature, and have a degree of self assured charisma borne of a tendency for his decisions to be correct and his orders to be obeyed. This composite image has its flaws though. There are components to the characters that comprise it that make me uncomfortable. A “Sergeant of Marines” commonly lacks, or even consciously rejects, the breadth of perspective that a “Second Year UCLA Student” holds in such high regard. Similarly, a “Second Year UCLA Student” pursues academic frivolity, avoiding the pragmatic approach to the world where goals are concrete and effort renders tangible results, on which the “Sergeant of Marines” hangs a considerable amount of his pride and self image. There are many other facets to the archetypal characters of the UCLA student and the Marine, and there are other labels with their own characteristics that apply to me as well. A “Twenty Eight Year Old” has had time to establish credit and earn money, as well as having gotten the hedonistic priorities of the “Twenty Two Year Old” out of his system. A “Social Progressive” prioritizes his values and efforts differently than a “Fiscal Conservative”, and I’m not sure that I’m familiar enough with either label to comfortably apply it to myself. And it’s the multifaceted nature of my personality, which is made of up of sometimes conflicting labels, and the discomfort I feel with the characteristics stereotypically associated to many of those labels, that drives me to pursue my archetype.

An “archetype” is just a term for “an original from which copies are made”, but it implies primacy, as well as quality. For instance, one of the original uses for the word was in minting, where the archetype was the original coin against all others were compared; the archetype sets the standard. Therefore, in answer to the question: “Why do you do what you do?”, I render the statement: “To Provide the Archetype”. It is not enough for me to reconcile what I feel to be the positive and negative attributes of the images which make up my character. My aim is to assimilate all the positives from all the stereotypes which make up my idealized self-image and conscientiously reject any of the negatives. Most importantly, however, I intend to provide an example worthy of emulation.

To assume oneself capable of perfection is lunacy, not to mention narcissism on an epic scale, so I’ll make no claim to that particular goal. The concept itself implies that there is one discrete set of human characteristics that, when combined, describe a human superior to all others. It’s not that the Ubermensch can’t exist, it’s that humans only exist because there are other humans with whom to ally, conflict and, importantly, mate, among other forms of interaction. One perfect being would be pointless because it’s offspring, by virtue of the genetic process, would be imperfect by definition. A whole society of perfect beings would be equally pointless because it would strip humanity of the heterogeneity that makes being human worthwhile.

Therefore, I will take this opportunity to point out that the archetype I want to provide will be “worthy of emulation” by virtue of it’s functionality within, and contribution to, a diverse human society. I do not aim to become the Ubermensch, I aspire to be more like a “really-quite-good mensch”, one to whom, were there many more humans similar, the balance of world society would tilt slightly more toward “civilized, comfortable and equitable”. And that, my friends, foes, allies and detractors, is Why I Do What I Do.

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Comment by Tony Deifell on January 23, 2011 at 2:31am
I love how you wrote this! a lot of dissonance and nuanced ideas you illustrate well. And, it goes great with the image you created. Cool.

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