Thursday, 4 October 2007

The fount of all knowledge

How many oracles have you come across? And I don't mean the Delphic sort.
Have you found a personal fount of all knowledge - someone who is not just happy to converse on a multitude of subjects but has true intelligence, has taken time for consideration and exhibits clear evidence of thought? An individual as relaxed in debating scientific issues as they are with the arts? (I apologise for sounding like some naff ad for acquiring false wisdom).
If you are lucky you might have come across one or two of these souls. My limited experience is that they tend to be quiet individuals secure about their thinking processes, perpetually on a mission to increase their understanding and eager to chew on opposing ideas in order to come to their own conclusions, which are frequently non-dogmatic and allowing of further clarification.

I worry often that my thinking is both too strident and too woolly and there is probably little that is more dangerous than an opinionated fool. In the same way that I struggle for words, I also tussle with thoughts, permanently conscious that others are more knowledgeable than I can hope to be. I put this down to a very average schooling, a sense that instinct is a strong and sensible animal, and an innate laziness. If you are perceptually bright and can dole out the required responses to fairly undemanding questions, then unless you have a teacher of extraordinary persuasive and insightful demeanour, you will get by satisfactorily without having to strain your brain. This is not a good thing. This has resulted in a deeply ingrained lack of respect for my own schooling and an inner fury at myself for not having done something about it both then and now.
The question is whether inertia can be overcome by anger, whether I can think of something to keep my brain delightfully occupied in mental gymnastics, and whether this is possible without completely ruining a sometimes precarious ability to sleep. How outrageously egotistical is that?

Picture - Consulting the Oracle by John William Waterhouse

6 comments:

Winchester whisperer said...

One way to start may be to find one subject which you're really interested in and to read a few books about it to learn more. Then find another subject. If you list the building blocks eg history, science, arts, philosophy, you'll become a polymath over time.

Swearing Mother said...

Not sure if I think inertia can be overcome by anger, but I definitely think encouragement initially and then a degree of success can do the trick for some. At school if anyone was angry or sarcastic with me (and that was quite a lot) my mind just shut down, but on the odd occasion I received interest and encouragement I suddenly thought "why not? I can do that".

I am absolutely in awe of those people who can so easily grasp complex issues and comment upon them with authority and always think "how do they do that?" I just don't think my brain will go there, but it will go other places. I just need to find out where!

Flowerpot said...

I know what you mean Mopsa. I felt like that till I started writing seriously and that is teh biggest strain of my brain of all time - and always will be!

Big Chip Dale said...

Nice post. I think intelligence isn't measured in what you know but how much you're willing to admit how little you know.

Big Chip Dale said...

I should add to my above remark that I of course know absolutely everything about everything.

Mopsa said...

WW - I have many books on many subjects and do read them all...my concern is that my mind just hasn't been trained to be as internally articulate as it should be - but yes, history, science and philosophy don't tickle my tastebuds and I should overcome that - thank you.

SM - I understand that feeling!

FP - pleased you understand - I was worried that folks would think i was a complete tosspot!

Thank you Chip. You can be my current fount of all knowledge.