Copybooks are trouble

Some of my earliest memories are of the pre-printed variety. More than what Rudyard Kipling would recognize as such, but they were Gods none the less. Wisdom and morality. Thoughts and knowledge.

Questions to be asked and answered.

Reading became acquiring knowledge. Of analysis. Without regard to the time or effort required. The creation of an aggregate collection of applied knowledge. Without question. Simply because it was to be done. The concept of pleasure reading doesn’t make any sense to me.

Even popcorn has a taste.

I cannot read Tarzan and not feel aspiration. I cannot read Starship Troopers and and think of my own family. I cannot read The Dresden Files and not seek out impossible odds. If I have an experience, it’s coming on board – one way or another. Only by choice. Consciously and deliberately.

I am my own cruel taskmaster.

My copybook is a multihued thing: private thoughts in a DayOne journal, semi-private Facebook posts, writings on a blog, wholesale replication of other’s thoughts in EverNote, and broken phrases on Twitter. Each has it’s point and value, but they’re for my understanding, not for others, even thought they maybe available to them.

I discovered that I wasn’t not alone in this practice. That I’m not the only one who’s taken the rote act of copying and morphed it into making something my own.

While plowing through Robert Greene’s Mastery, I realized the damn point. The process I followed, without ever questioning, was not how others did things. Instead they had to actually be both taught and convinced of its value. How is that not prima facie obvious?

The human race simply isn’t lucky that way.

Without application, how can you verify veracity? Without, at least, even trying to use use something, how can you know how something works? Or if it even works? This takes a huge effort. System 2 is lazy and our brains are willing to accept what they see is all that there is (WYSIATI.)

My brain hurts.

That’s just the start of it:

  1. You’ll know that you’ve wasted your time. Well before you get to the end of whatever it is you start, you will come to the conclusion that what you are doing has no value. Many whelps – handle it.

  2. It’s actually hard to apply something. Knowledge of both it’s form and function are required. That understanding is not easy.

  3. Correctness is not required. You can learn a hell of a lot from swinging a hammer, even if you don’t drive the nail in straight the first time.

  4. Making choices takes from the same font as willpower. The knock-on damage is significant, and must be paid attention to.


Copybook example follows:

Others carry the same copybook lodestone.

Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay. – anon

THIRTY SECONDS? I might as well be running around screaming about ONE POINT TWENTY ONE GIGAWATTS! Holy hell. I can’t even write a paragraph in 30 seconds.

I’m agog at the constraint. Clearly.

I wonder if getting faster at writing and drawing would be helpful? Not typing. Writing. How else could something like this be done? There’s just not enough… information density in the written word to be able to communicate even the edges of a (substantial) idea in 30 seconds.

Who the hell am I? Sun Tzu? Marcus Aurelius? A fortune cookie?

Sigh… Following this idea to it’s logical conclusion is going to lead to a whole new toolchain.

Like I have the energy, the willpower, the time, for that.

The queue is already ridiculous.

An echo of Stonehenge compels me forward.

Enough, or no.