Not learning fast enough

10 July 2006

This one’s for you, Sherryll.

Reading Chris Anderson, where I usually understand most of what I read, I often end up reading people who make me want to be able to learn simply by holding books against my forehead. Today, it is Nassim Taleb. Despite some frustrating broken links on his page, I love what little I can comprehend via old-fashioned reading, including this:

the academic system favors what Nietzsche calls uberphilisters (learned philistines)

That, I suppose, is the difference between intellectuals and academics. Particularly since one of Mr. Taleb’s favorites is Richard Feynman, the hero of a thousand anecdotes. I particularly enjoy the blurb on the back of one of my copies of Feynman where somebody calls him ‘iconic,’ and ‘iconoclastic,’ practically in the same sentence. I’ll have to see if I can take a picture and post it. Whether that bit of writing was brilliant or not, it is clearly brilliant.

I also just finished reading Joseph Kanon’s Los Alamos, which has several Feynmanian bits scattered throughout. The review that I just linked to is a little harsh, I think, but pretty on target. I guess my opinion of the book was improved by having read Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen. The two together make me want to read a little more about some of these guys.

I can’t find the quotes by Freda Kirchwey that I wanted to include, so I’ll have to post them later, but take it from me that they’re relevant. These are McCarthy-era quotes, in case you’re keeping score.

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