Lay down your intellectual vices

by phil on Wednesday Oct 27, 2004 8:54 AM

I'm tired of reading articles; I want to get back into textbooks.

I miss the comprehensiveness of school. They pick a topic, like let's say "American Modernism," and then they nail it. Over 10-16 weeks you experience all the authors, music, films, histories and perspectives of that topic. The course is then capped with an essay-writing assignment to complete the learning process.

In a way, school was a weapon against memetic-calcification. In memetic-calcification, memes languish for too long in your head, something that too easily happens post-college. After school, you only click and read whatever's convenient. You remain glued to your favorite TV channels and magazines. Even your "educational" sources, like the History Channel or The New Yorker, are snippets and summaries contributing to mere cocktail party wit.

I miss learning things that I never initially wanted. Maybe I should segment my year into quarters and follow college syllabi. Replace all the time spent surfing TV or the Internet or whatever intellectual vice--we all have one--with a focus on this quarter's reading.

Seriously, all the hundreds of essays I've read on Kerry v. Bush are useless compared to rich historical perspective:

The libertarian writer Lew Rockwell has mischievously noted parallels between Bush and Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II: both gained office as a result of family connections, both initiated an unnecessary war that shattered their countries’ budgets. Lenin needed the calamitous reign of Nicholas II to create an opening for the Bolsheviks. (from The American Conservative endorses Kerry)

See, that's the kind of knowledge I want.


Bob said on October 27, 2004 11:00 AM:

You should go back to school, then. You're in Palo Alto still, freelancing with a flexible schedule--just go to some classes! I'm going to a class in Urban Studies right now that blows my fragile engineering mind...and I have to skip work 3 days a week and take the train up to do so...

Philip Dhingra said on October 27, 2004 11:13 AM:

Yeah, that's a good idea, thanks.

Applejack said on October 28, 2004 9:44 AM:

This magazine "The American Conservative," is suspiciously liberal...

Philip Dhingra said on October 28, 2004 12:28 PM:

Yeah, that's how I found out about the American Conservative. The link to that article has been circulating around the blogosphere as a sort of "look! dissension among the right-wing ranks" link

mr strauss said on October 29, 2004 7:12 AM:


interesting thoughts here. i like how contrary they are. we thinking types typically become disgusted with school, a perspective I'm sure you've held, perhaps vehemently, at some point in the not to distant past.

and it's always good to question one's own truisms. But I think, ultimately, you'd find it just as inefficient as ever. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't classify the time I spend wandering about the web as overly scattered. I mean, sure, I can only look at so many sites about, to use your example, "American Modernism" before I get bored. But that would be about the point at which I quite doing the reading for the class anyways.

The thing is, I trust my own brain to direct my attention towards text worth reading. After all it was my rather random google search of "art theory" that led me here, to this blog. And I'm glad it did.

Good stuff for sure.

best regards,

mr strauss
pop goes lethal

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