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Friday, February 12, 2016

What else could you learn?

Intellectual stagnation is a horrible thing. It happens even to very smart people, because basically a smart person, like anyone else, will gravitate toward the already known, as a matter of comfort or inertia. If you comfortably ensconced in what you know, there will be few challenges.

How do you know if you've stagnated? If your ideas five years ago were the same. The jokes you tell. Are your courses identical? Do you cook the exact same dishes? Wear the same kind of clothes?

I've decided the best thing is to learn another language, where language means any cognitive system that must be approached with some degree of rigor. So music would count, or a branch of mathematics, or an actual language like Greek. It could be drawing or ceramics, or chess. It should be something you learn to do, not something you learn about. The point is not the accumulation of additional information. Nothing wrong with that either.

I am incapable of having a hobby without it changing my life in some profound way.


Anonymous said...

I have not really changed food or clothing styles significantly since high school and do not intend to -- those things are me, I do not want to renounce them or this haircut that I first got when I was 18. But my idea of vacation is to go on language immersion or language intensive. One of the more attainable of my big fantasies is a summer in Berlin studying at the Goethe Institute.

Yet I find these plans fragmenting, the bane of my existence is too many serious interests in things I could get really good at. I want to get really good at a few of these, really really good, before I add more and fragment more. I want to find out whether or not I really can be a good fiction or creative nonfiction writer, too.

Instead I want things I am not likely to get really good at, so the Things will bend my mind but remain under control. This winter, for instance, I was supposed to learn flamenco guitar and become serious about kayaking. I have not done these things because I had to write a Strategic Plan and a Website instead, but they would be important things to do and better than what I have actually done.

Jonathan said...

With the flamenco guitar all it would take would be 15 minutes a day. You're not going to get good over a winter; it will probably take a few years. That's like, for me, running and songwriting. If I can get those two hobbies and do them every day I will be in good shape.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is what I said about the guitar and kayak. But, that time turned into website and strategic plan. ;-) I am actually quite p.o.'d about it, I am realizing, because guess which set of extracurricular activities are best for fomenting research and real writing?