Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gno Means Know

I am currently studying the gnostic texts of G.R.S. Mead as background for my novel, specifically his massive summary, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, and his translation of Pistis Sophia (from Latin, rather than from Coptic). I'm taking copious notes, and it's tempting to just regurgitate them onto this blog, but seriously, folks, you're better off reading the stuff yourself, or, barring that, just read Wikipedia.

It's also tempting to write my personal thoughts about the significance of these texts.

Instead, I am going to write about the dangers of outsourcing one’s brain.

A few weeks ago one of our maple trees dropped a limb and snapped our phone line. Although the phone company replaced the line relatively quickly, our Internet connection has never been the same. Today has been especially bad with slow download speeds and frequent connection breaks. It drove home the fact that I have become so accustomed to searching the Internet for information, that I am almost at a loss without. This has got me wondering about how much I really know. Not just in the existential sense (great big universe... frail human mind... insert sophomoric college bull session here). I mean how much of the stuff that I think I know, is actually just stuff that I know how to look up. I have always disdained memorization in favor of reasoning—Why memorize an equation that I can look up, when the real issue is knowing how to solve a problem by using that equation? I am beginning to suspect that my viewpoint has been cripplingly narrow. Specifically, what happens when I can't look up the equation? Isn’t it absurd to say that I know how to solve the problem in that situation when, in fact, I can’t?

Today's writing totals:
Novel: 231 words (gnostic research summaries)
Blog: 299 words
DAILY TOTAL: 530 words



Bittersweet Sage said...

I received the following email from NerkyMarg:

I was going to reply to your recent post, but this incarnation won't let me do it without logging in. So here you go.

I saw an interesting bit on public television in a 'how the brain works' series. An interviewer posted herself outside a college graduation and grabbed recent graduates to see if they could solve a problem. Given a wire, a battery, and a light bulb, could they get the bulb to light? When asked, most of them replied that of course they could. When tasked to do so with the aforementioned items, only 5% actually could.

That would have happened to me. And if I actually had to do it (and there wasn't someone sitting there with a camera), I may very well have first turned to the internet for clues before engaging in trial-and-error.

But yeah. We're sure we know things. But maybe we're just really sure that we 'ought' to know them, or can find out, and that's just as good. Right?

Bittersweet Sage said...

I have enabled anonymous comments.