Saturday, January 30, 2010

217 - Belittling what other people choose to learn or do because we don't understand it


I'm acquaintances with a guy who I haven't been to school with or spoken with in a while. I think the reason we drifted apart and no longer talk came down to my fondness of contemplating different subject matters in great detail, for long periods of time, while he preferred to keep conversations simple and avoid overthinking the things we talked about. He would complain to me about the work we had to do in class, and ask me why we had to read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy or 500-page Dickens novels, and when I asked him in return why he was having such an awful time, he would tell me that it was because he hated authors who went to great lengths to describe the different sceneries, writers who kept the plot going for far too long with all the twists and turns, and who used old-fashioned and unusual vocabulary and sentence structures, and incorporated themes and symbolism that he couldn't grasp without someone else pointing them out to him.

I respected his way of thinking, I understand the appeal of it, and I wish the world was simple too. The bigger the phenomenon (e.g., love, life and the pursuit of happiness), the simpler I wish it was. But I believe from a very early stage in our lives, we are meant to learn to adapt to the complicated, mazy reality we live in. And one cannot be afraid to expose oneself to knowledge and experience, because otherwise, we will forever be naïve.

A lot of people tell me that they hate science and maths because the concepts are so abstract and dealing with numbers and equations is just too confusing. Some people tell me they don't get art, because it's hard for them to grasp on to the idea of actually reading an artist's expression and finding meaning through their painting or sculpture. One person once told me they disliked economics, because the way economies work most of the time is in a sporadic, seemingly senseless manner - prices rise, productivity falls, import spending increases, but government taxation decreases, consumer spending goes up, then prices go down when they were going up to begin with...

As for me, I find the study of politics and history very complicated. The same goes for music theory. I'm actually afraid to expose myself to theoretical music, because as a kid, I never played any musical instruments and it was just too hard when I finally tried it. Musical theorists and skilled instrument players astound me and I could never do what they do.

On the topic of music, I have another old acquaintance that once said to me he hates music, all forms of it, in all genres. He thinks it's all noise, and he thinks it's stupid that mankind have conceived of 'such aural abuse', as he called it.

It really, really gets on my nerves when people disparage what other people do and know just because it's different. It's definitely not okay to undermine what science, art, economics, politics, history or music does for society, just because it's too complicated in our point of view. Without any academic facet of the humanities, and the sciences, and the arts, our world just wouldn't function properly. Although it is alright to state your disinterest in particular subjects, calling psychology pure crap, or art pupils too stupid to do anything else, or science and maths students too geeky, or the study of philosophy too convoluted, does nothing but demonstrate a great deal of insensitivity and narrow-mindedness.

Without all the other people in the world that don't lead your life, you'd be dead. The world ain't simple, and they make sure it works for you. So, be a bit more acceptant, please.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what you do throughout your whole blog.