The Final Frontier: Plotinus

Moobinah, 2nd Year B.Hum Biology Student

December 2020

After two hours of frantically racking my brain for metabolic processes and cellular components, I finally submit my biochemistry exam. Answering 100 questions in two hours was difficult, but thankfully, the ordeal is now over. My brain tries to linger on the challenging questions, but I quickly stop myself. I don’t have time to worry about the potential blunders I made: Finals’ Season isn’t over yet. One last HUMS 2000 paper stands between me and the holidays.

For those of you in a similar position, I’m sure you know the struggle of writing papers in December. Ideally you started your work well in advance, but your essay can be easily lost in the tidal wave of exams and assignments during Finals’ Season. Thankfully, you can still complete your paper if you plan accordingly. Here are some things I have done to make my job easier.

To begin, I reviewed my HUMS 2000 lecture and discussion notes. After days of reviewing the Krebs cycle, amino acid catabolism, and other biochemical processes, Plotinus’ Enneads felt like a distant memory. It might feel like a waste of time to re-read notes with so little time, but trust me, for authors like Plotinus, I need all the help I can get. During this virtual semester, there’s also the option to listen to lecture recordings again. For any students writing papers during this time, I strongly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity!

In my own case, I fully admit to giving myself a pat on the back for taking detailed notes during our Plotinus discussion groups. Professor Stephenson and Professor MacIsaac’s live explanations have helped me understand Plotinus’ concept of multiplicity much better than the lectures did on their own, as my misconceptions were quickly corrected. I’m glad we had the opportunity for weekly live meetings in HUMS 2000 during this virtual semester.

Having refamiliarized myself with Plotinus, I chose a prompt and began to write my draft. Unlike high school, you can’t just write an essay in one sitting and expect it to be good. As I  have learned from Professor MacIsaac, a writer’s real work is in creating an outline. The more effort you invest into planning the structure and content of your paper, the less time you will waste while weaving all of your arguments into an essay. I can attest that writing the essay draft was easy after creating a detailed outline

As I’m sure many of you can relate, deciding what to say is a piece of cake compared to deciding which points to cut out during the editing stage. In the beginning, I would have said there’s no way I could write 1300-2000 words about Substance theory, but at the moment, I’m having trouble killing my darlings to meet the word count. During these frustrating writing moments, it’s important to remember you’re not alone! As this virtual semester comes to a close, I am glad to have my fellow humsies to confront Plotinus with, whether we talk about his arguments, or engage in a good old-fashioned whinging session. United by our common objective, the lonely task of writing becomes an enjoyable endeavor.