11 Februar 2013

Greek Gifts II

Ms. Taylor had guided Harold through a method that had him surfing in and out his unconscious, getting the conscious and unconscious processes to work together - first mastering core knowledge, then letting that knowledge marinate playfully in his mind, then willfully trying to impose order on it, then allowing the mind to consolidate and merge the data, then returning and returning until some magical insight popped into his consciousness, and then riding that insight to a finished product. The process was not easy, but each ounce of effort and each moment of frustration and struggle pushed the internal construction project another little step. By the end, he was seeing the world around him in a new way. There was, as the mathematician Henri Pointcaré observed, 'an unsuspected kinship ... between facts, long known, but wrongly believed to be strangers to one another.' Harold no longer had to work to apply qualities like thumos to the world around him; they simply became the automatic categories of his mind, the way he perceived new situations.
When he was in kindergarten and first grade, Harold struggled to learn to read, but then it came naturally to him. Suddenly reading wasn't about piecing together words; he could concentrate on the meanings. As a senior in high school, he had similarly internalized some Greek thought, and now he could automatically apply it to his life moment by moment. 
He would go off to college and he would sit in classes as required, but he understood those classes would be only the first stage of his learning. He would have to spend nights writing random thoughts in his journal. He would organize his thoughts on the floor. He would have to stew and struggle and then maybe a few times in his life, while taking a shower or walking to the grocery store, some insight would come to him and make all the difference. This would be the method for escaping passive institutional learning. This would be the way he would build for himself a mind that is not stuck in an inherited rut, but which jumps from vantage point to vantage point, applying different patterns to new situations to see what works and what doesn't, what will go together and what will not, what is likely to emerge from the confusion of reality and what is not likely to emerge. This would be his path to wisdom and success.
David Brooks, The Social Animal 

Edward Fairburn - The Starry Heavens

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