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Pretentious and Fake?

hack646hack646 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
edited April 2010 in College Essays
So yesterday I stumbled over my old college application essay that I wrote a while back. I was reading it, and it just seemed so phony that I couldn't believe I had actually written it. I mean, when I wrote it I felt like it was the perfect essay and that it would stand out from all the rest. In retrospect, I can tell that there is something in there that is real, but it is smothered by all the bombastic rhetoric I used. Anyway, Does anyone else feel this way looking back at their college application essays, or am i the only pretentious one here?

I'll post the essay below so you can see what I mean.

Essay

Last year, I took a course entitled Modern Thought and Literature. At the end of the class, we were asked to pick a book pertaining to the ideas we had covered and to write a report on it. It was not until I selected that book that my values and ideas about life changed in a meaningful way. That book, that was picked entirely by chance; that book, that broke my shackles and let me out of the cave of illusory shadows and into the sun of enlightenment; that book, was Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Fredrick Wilhelm Nietzsche. His explanation of an individual’s Will to Power and the various stages one moves through in order to reach their meaningful potential intrigued and inspired me.

Before reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I was still in the cave, trying to make sense of shadows that I perceived as reality. I believed that I needed to obtain good grades, in order to be accepted into a competitive college, so that I could acquire a respectable job, which would in turn make me wealthy and allow me live the comfortable “happy” life that I perceived. However, after coming across Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I realized the shadows were only distortions of reality, that I was heading in the wrong direction, towards the “last man” (selfishness and lack of ambition) and that I instead needed to move towards the Übermensch (vitality and risk-taking). In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche introduces three metamorphoses: from the camel, learning a trade; to the lion, mastering a trade; to the child, creating a personal interpretation of the knowledge. After reading Nietzsche, I became the camel taking on the burdens of knowledge. I searched for insight from literary and philosophical ideas ranging from Homer’s idea that cleverness outweighs strength in The Odyssey, to Dante’s journey through hell to paradise as an analogy of our struggle to achieve the virtuous life in The Divine Comedy. From Voltaire’s satirical take on the view that everything happens for a reason and will work out by itself in Candide, I moved on to Joyce’s use of parallax and stream of consciousness to show the necessity for multiple perspectives in Ulysses. I began to enlighten myself through the philosophies of Plato and the importance of knowledge and wisdom to maintain society, and Descartes and his view that reason is the essence of humanity. I learned about Sartre and his view that people are entirely responsible for all elements of themselves, and Heidegger and his “question of being”. All of this helped me to ease the burden of the camel and to better see the bright light of the sun.

I hope that it is here, at the University of Michigan, where I can transform into the second metamorphosis, the Lion, by developing an expertise in literature, science, or the arts. However, becoming the Lion is not enough for me, as the great philosopher Descartes once said: “it is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.” Like Zarathustra who after enlightening himself, uses his Will to Power, the motivation to personal strength that is inside all of us, to “go under” and enlighten humanity, I need to be able to exercise my Will to Power in order to put to use my knowledge. For me, this means to generate something original and unique. Whether that be writing a book, doing research to advance science and technology, or helping others locate their own Will to Power. Only then, will I morph into the third and last metamorphosis, the child, and develop a new innocence. This will complete the cycle which began with a book, will grow through my attendance at an institution like the University of Michigan, and whose final stage will be created as I integrate the knowledge that I attain with my own unique perspective.
Post edited by hack646 on

Replies to: Pretentious and Fake?

  • WhomovedmycheeseWhomovedmycheese Registered User Posts: 131 Junior Member
    Yes...I can see how the rhetoric is overwhelming. It was for me, at least. It didn't show who you were which I believe is the objective of the essays.
    My essay had some corny intro metaphor in the beginning :rolleyes: but I needed a good starter. After that it was very straightforward and very..me. I figured they would either take it or leave it. They took it, thankfully. :p
  • Mr.HSMr.HS Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    "That book, that was picked entirely by chance; that book, that broke my shackles and let me out of the cave of illusory shadows and into the sun of enlightenment; that book, was Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Fredrick Wilhelm Nietzsche"

    I can see where you are coming from. Though you are definitely not the only pretentious one.
  • MonochromeAddictMonochromeAddict Registered User Posts: 860 Member
    Yeah, I wrote an essay about my favorite word - mind. It was definitely quite pretentious. :o
  • WhomovedmycheeseWhomovedmycheese Registered User Posts: 131 Junior Member
    Haha. I think it happens to the best of us. I do think the adcoms know students just want to produce their best works. After all..this is the one and only time said students get to represent themselves in subjective manners.
    You were definitely not the only one though, OP, so rest assured there.
  • antoniorayantonioray User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 849 Member
    If the prompt is your favorite book, then I suppose it's passable if you're telling the truth. You don't get extra points for picking books like Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
    I was still in the cave, trying to make sense of shadows that I perceived as reality.

    I mean I could see what you're saying but there's really no need to say that reality was incarnated in a bunch of shadows.

    Also, your middle paragraph isn't about the original book but about the books that you had read afterwards. Divine Comedy is nice, and so is Candide but I think mentioned them once in a sentence and never revisiting them again is doing yourself injustice.

    I chose Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon as my book essay, and I stuck with it to the end for about 600 words. You should've done the same; some might accuse you of "intellectually masturbating," which might not be too far from the truth.

    The best college essay I had ever read is in the Barron's book of college essays, which I picked up and skimmed one day in Barnes and Nobles.

    The essay was for Princeton and was about the author's love of exploring, and I'm pretty sure the biggest word he used in that essay was "wade."
  • hack646hack646 Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    I mean I could see what you're saying but there's really no need to say that reality was incarnated in a bunch of shadows.

    Well, Its actually an allusion to Platos "Allegory of the Cave", which probably only makes it seem more pretentious. :p
    Also, your middle paragraph isn't about the original book but about the books that you had read afterwards. Divine Comedy is nice, and so is Candide but I think mentioned them once in a sentence and never revisiting them again is doing yourself injustice.

    I chose Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon as my book essay, and I stuck with it to the end for about 600 words. You should've done the same; some might accuse you of "intellectually masturbating," which might not be too far from the truth.

    I agree, I guess what I was trying to do was show that the book changed my views on life and gave me a new thirst for knowledge in general. The books I listed were just to show how much I was able to get out of that new found interest. But, I definitely see what you mean by "intellectual masturbation" :p
  • quomodoquomodo Registered User Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    It seems like you're just throwing out names--ooh, I've read voltaire and dante and plato and sartre. But I think the weakest thing is it doesn't tell us much about you--yeah, you like knowledge, but what specifically lit your intellectual fire at that time?

    But it seems more earnest than purely pretentious--more like you desperately WANTED to impress rather than that you thought you were inherently very impressive. If that makes sense?
This discussion has been closed.