It's all filters!
For some reason, my intellectual appetite increased recently. I pulled out "How to Solve It," and found theorem proving exercises. Soon the floor was covered in paper, and I was wishing I hadn't gotten rid of a perplexing book from college on real analysis. The paper bothered me, so I installed Anaconda and sat in a Jupyter notebook dutifully learning LaTeX math markup, thinking that if it became fluid enough I could a) achieve the fluency of paper while b) "live blogging" my way through problem sets in a way that would lead to larger things (somehow).
From here I leapt to the world of command-lines and attended to my miserable dotfiles, trampled on by various installers, full of weeds. I've got to *finally learn the shell*, I said. Stumble around in text-based command-shell world for a few minutes and things like gemini and (finally, relevance!) the Midnight Pub appear. And so here I sit!
But in this strange awakening a note of despair has gotten louder. Where do I put all this? To what end? Will all this end up another sudden, flaming interest that departs with no productive output? In the past I didn't mind that this was the way of things, but time is shorter, now. Was I seeking to numb the sense of self in the activity of "learning things" as a kind of relatively benign addiction? Well I ought not to do that!
Gnawing on the chapter on sed and awk in the Unix Programming Environment, the idea of filters and "everything is a filter" stuck in my crowded brain. A filter is deployed to perform useful, transformative work. Done simply, completely and correctly, we regard it as having elegance. I am myself a filter, leaving the results of my transformations behind me on several planes. Too many of the transformations have been purposeless, a kind of white-noise emitter adding to the general background noise of mental planes. I'm suddenly conscious of this, however the pain of it is lessened by the feeling that I am on the verge of changing it for the better.
The flaw is that I have not been "cooking" my food. I've been passing systems, methods, heuristics through without sufficient transformative thought which is (and this is important) the *only real way to hold on to anything*. I can ape the systems, for a time. Until a new system comes in and crowds the old one out. I suppose this is the quality of depth. Depth is lacking.
Now, on the verge of giving up this tear up and down the landscape of our technotopia, I found...Zettelkasten! Yet-another-note-taking system, I know. And yet what seems to offer salvation is that the essence of it is the digestion of material such that you reproduce it in your *own* words and link it appropriately into the emerging system of your *own* chain of thoughts. That is, I will be forced to digest before moving on. You could say I'm forced to chew my food. :)
So <bangs flagon on table, sharp, level look from bartender> right here, with unpleasant expediency! i begin. Right now I am a sprawl of words titled "How You May Well End Up If You Fail To Grapple FullyWith Source Material (And What You Can Do About It, Hopefully)."
I dunno...does that happen to y'all?
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~inquiry wrote (thread):
In the spirit of filters, here's a vim line filter that just so happens to express my feeling about sites other than Midnight Pub:
~ew wrote (thread):
Unix Programming Environment --- Good book! Yepp. Filters!
Zettelkasten! Yepp. I should have learned this while still in academia. Would have saved me an hour or two rereading stuff :-)
Learning for the sake of learning --- Well. I keep saying: "If no one ever had learned something seemingly useless, we would probably still gather in caves and freeze." So like always, there is a balance to strike. If "learning something new" is creative avoidance in place of something that needs to be done, then it's most probably a bad idea.
~benj wrote (thread):
With time for just a quick virgin mojito… it happens to me too!
I can with certainty say that the poetic quality you impart to the experience is something I can attain but nonetheless, loosing myself in “learning something new”, the high of finally “getting it”, the despair of purposeless knowledge… I’ve been there way too many times!
I greatly appreciate the insight of transformation!! I’ve been vaguely aware of this concept in education, being described as “making knowledge your own” and whatnot, but the idea of a filter, of transforming knowledge enough until it actually become part of the transformer, I love that!! Wonder how my sporadic teaching would look with that idea on mind!
Nowadays I don’t despair that much regarding my learning activities not having a visible/concrete output. The ability of the mind to make connections between things that seem completely unrelated keeps surprising me and sort of keeping my back cover on that side.
For now, and please bartender, could you hand me a mold wine to go… what’s so depraved from the benign vice of learning? It’s one in which neither others are not being hurt nor (hopefully) self either.