Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Part II: taking breaks from thinking

Thinking: Dangerous. Taking breaks from thinking: Dangerous.

I end up going to a tennis match between cross-town rivalries on a day with 40% chance of rain. It rains. And then my immune system is overcome by a viral infection that results in bronchitis complete with malaise and sustained fever of 102. This story has a happy ending!! The fever and my brain are in cahoots, and autopilot for continuous thinking switches on. So this involuntary, uncontrollable thinking mode results in a resolution to all of my problems with work. Literally, figuratively, and paradoxically. Literally, the modus operandi for upcoming work is mapped out. Figuratively, to think required a high fever which meant being absent from work. And paradoxically, taking a break from thinking ultimately lead to painful, agonizing thinking.

Moral of the story is that the only pasttimes worth doing are the dangerous ones.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dangerous Pastime Part I: Thinking

There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist...Mark Twain
I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else...Winston Churchill, when he was an old man.

After another 3-hour class discussion the other day, I commented out loud that this was another round of tearing apart my motivation to help (by way of existing mechanisms) empower the subsistence-level women of the world. A peer, as she was walking out, commented, "Well, you have to think this shit through." And left it at that.

That's all we do in academia is think shit through. Pourquoi? Is it a defensive mechanism - for fear of being proven wrong too easily? To maintain our privileged station as observers? Do we all possess various combinations of narcissistic, schizotypal, borderline, paranoid et al. personality disorders? For me, it's all of the above, plus the primitive desire to live dangerously. Sure, I could try fugu, but the excitement dividend will always be too low when the quotient is stupidly ingesting incorrectly prepared fish. And sushi is a favorite pastime. Previous pastimes included rock climbing, spelunking, snowboarding, blah blah, but now that I have 1.5 dependents (not including dog), it's only responsible to purchase life insurance for these activities. But who can afford the premium, especially whilst supporting one-and-a-half dependents?

So I resort to the dangerous pastime of thinking. Remember the song from Disney's Beauty and the Beast when
Gaston croons: LeFou I'm afraid I've been thinking,
LeFou: A dangerous pastime,
Gaston: I know.

The danger lies in forever being frozen into inaction because of the discovery that every action will result in negative externalities that outweighs and outvalues the original perceived gain. The danger is being hit by a Prius one day because both me, the pedestrian, and she, the driver were busy thinking.