Monday, February 11, 2019

Cosmic Area Rug Update

This is what I'm talking about. It's from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay that I bumped into the other day:

Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour / Rains from the sky a meteoric shower / Of facts... they lie unquestioned, uncombined. / Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill / Is daily spun, but there exists no loom / To weave it into fabric.

So, that's where we come in: a loom with a view toward weaving the threads into fabric, and fabric into rug. By the end of the week I will have gone through around 1,300 posts, so, less than 2,000 posts to go after that.

However, these newer posts might well take longer to review, since they will presumably be superior to the ones I've slogged through thus far. If they aren't better, then I think we can throw out the whole "10,000 hour" thingy.

We know all about "information management." What about "wisdom management"? That would be the purpose of the Cosmic Area Rug: you could just look at the rug and see where things fit in, and where everything relates to the whole encirclopedia of existence.

What? Yes, I am aware of the fact that it is an impossible undertaking. Why else would I try to do it? The possible is boring.

I recently read a book called Too Much to Know, which is essentially a history of man's information overload, which actually began long before the "information age." For example, Descartes lamented that

Even if all knowledge could be found in books, where it is mixed in with so many useless things and confusingly heaped in such large volumes, it would take longer to read those books than we have to live in this life and more effort to select the useful things than to find them oneself.

Too little time, too many tomes. And way before the Enlightenment there were already too many books; we read in Ecclesiastes 12:12 that "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh."

Or Erasmus 500 years ago: "Is there anywhere on earth exempt from these swarms of new books? Even if, taken out one at a time, they offered something worth knowing, the very mass of them would be a serious impediment to learning..."

There was a time when man had insufficient information. But now there is so much that we can't cope with it -- indeed there is more new information produced in a year or two (or whatever it is) than all the information man has produced in the past.

But wisdom doesn't increase in a similarly exponential or even linear manner. Indeed, one could argue that by definition wisdom cannot increase, since it goes to essences -- to the very nature of things. Nor is it possible to have too much of it. Which is the only excuse for another book: my only promise is that it will be entirely free of information.

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