Saturday, October 03, 2009

Metal bars

When I was a student and when I was given an assignment, first I would diligently read what the "authorities" had to say, and then I would mix and match their arguments like reporting on a panel discussion. Sometimes I would write a sentence or two explaining why I particularly like one view, why it seems more plausible, but usually I would just let them do the talking. Because they knew, and I didn't. I was there to learn.

Then Nong said that she would first put all her ideas about the topic on paper, and then start on the reading. This seemed like a refreshing idea to me, this giving your "consciousness" a chance before it is constrained by everything that was thought and said by the wise men and women before you. I remembered the conversation with my professor while I was trying to pick a question for my dissertation. When I told her that I wanted to write it on something I didn't know about, because I wanted to learn, she said the purpose of writing a dissertation is not to learn. It is to contribute.

But then, as Vidi pointed out, when one has opinions about a subject, their attention will be drawn to the supporting views, even if they don't actively seek it. (Am I still doing the same thing, just reporting on what people said instead of stating my own views?! Well I honestly don't have a view on this one.) When we recognize an idea that confirms our own views about a subject, it's like a shining gem in the middle of all the "irrelevant" clutter. It jumps at us from the page and we do a little self-congratulatory dance in our heads. When I wrote for the school paper, I would always find the right quote to prove the point I'm trying to make. When journalists call my colleagues to ask for their "expert views", they are often not trying to learn, but they are trying to make a point without making it themselves.

How to free our minds from others' words, how to free others' words from our minds?

How to free our minds from our minds?

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