Friday, April 2, 2010

My Notebook and My Blog: A Comparison

I am still house sitting for my parents. Watching their 5 dogs, 2 birds, and 1 cat. It's a good time. Hanging out at this house with no one else here. I have been enjoying making a big pot of coffee, and drinking lots of it, and sitting by myself.

This morning I did exactly that. I made a big pot of coffee and had a huge mug of it and I was sitting at a table looking outside. I started writing by hand in the little notebook I carry. It was fine.

When I first started carrying paper notebooks and pens it was a big new and exciting sort of thing. For the last 3 years I have gone through phases with them. I always have one in the works, but sometimes I am not writing in it very much at all. Sometimes I can't help but keep writing in it. For example, there have been times when I was overwhelmed with how badly I wanted to record everything, to write about everything. I remember when I worked at the archives I stopped and wrote CATALOG CATALOG CATALOG. Cause I feel like that was what I was doing. And it was what I was excited about doing.

But this blog has changed the pace of my writing in the last couple of weeks. I have always known that writing by hand was slow. Sometimes I will sit down and follow an idea on paper for a few hours and it is hard. I have to force my mind to move so slowly. To keep the same thing in mind and let it keep coming. It is really hard.

But this blog. It is so rapid fire.

This morning, for example, I was writing in my notebook about my plans for the day: six flags. I was also writing very briefly about how my ideas were expanding and going in new directions these days and how I like that. I followed an idea about Collingwood for a minute and then I stopped. Then I commented on how much longer it took to wrote it down by hand. And how the blog had taken precedence in a way.

What I wrote in this notebook would have taken much less time typing. But would my thoughts have been ready? Sometimes thoughts need lots of time to work themselves out. So writing by hand can be useful for that slow process.

But, Collingwood. All I was saying was how his ideas on history and philosophy seemed like they spread so far beyond those disciplines. For example, his whole thing was understanding other people and their thoughts. He believed that understanding always came back to thinking things for ourselves. All his contemporary philosophers, they didn't understand his ideas and they didn't talk about them. But he understood theirs, and he participated in their conversations. He says that this was a great exercise, forcing his mind to become like these other minds. Letting himself get inside of their thoughts and work out how and why they think that way.

The most interesting thing to me: he says that it then allowed him to anticipate the arguments that they would make against his ideas. He could imagine how they would respond to this ideas. He had such a grasp of their thought processes that he could predict how they would receive his ideas.

That seems intense and very worthwhile. To be able to think like other people. And to be able to do it on the level of philosophy.

So I have a blog post that I have been working on since the middle of March. So about 2-3 weeks. Right now it is a 30 page word document. I am not sure if I am going to post it. I am pretty sure I am. I will just concede that no one will read it before I post it. It is just so long. But it is a somewhat coherent statement of my interests in history, philosophy, fiction, and neuroscience. Collingwood plays a big role. This idea of thinking like other people is the central idea. Simulation. Being able to make your mind like another mind. That is what reading is. What conversation is.

So, simulation and synthetic experience. Huge post still coming. Have a few more sections left to write. Booya.

It'll be a show when I finish it. I have been thinking about writing this essay for about a year. So I am glad it came out finally.

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