Jason (jcreed) wrote,

oh man so the other day I heard about these kids wearin' dreadlocks and gettin' it on and looking at images captioned IM IN UR CALIFORNIA ROLL, except, no, not really, I am just teasing myhearttohold.

I'm risking sounding like I'm taking this sort of thing too seriously — what follows isn't a criticism of the comment at all, it's just that I felt reminded of an interesting broader issue, so I will forge ahead: I get this reaction to my more math-like posts sometimes, from the more benign "hey jcreed I read your journal and sometimes you talk about math and I don't get it" to "...and sometimes you talk about math and it makes me feel dumb".

The main point I want to make is I suspect this latter reaction, even though it is probably meant in kind of a jokey way, is actually sort of real in other contexts and detrimental to actually learning things. I mean, if you don't want to learn math, and if you simply want to make fun of me for being a total nerd, (which I am!) that's completely okay. I mean it.

But for my own part, I notice that witnessing good work does vastly different things to me depending on the 'genre', even for equal values of how incapable of reproducing or understanding that work I presently am. Most of my life when I face a forest of symbols in some nigh-incomprehensible technical mathy books or papers beyond my level, precisely its incomprehensibility feels enticing, magical, inspiring. Someone else wrote this, understood this; but the shit is crazy, I wanna learn it.

However: I still get really intimidated by excellent writing, visual art, presentation-giving, and sometimes but less often music. Contrarily, then, I have that same reaction of "man, seeing/listening to this just makes me feel like I suck at it".

I think this is simply an unhelpful reaction, if what you want to do is get better at something. If you want to manage your precious finite time on this earth and not try to spread yourself thin and be good at everything, then fine, but for the domains of life that you have decided you want to improve in, you have to defeat the sense of not being super-awesome yet implying that you have failed somehow — to react to examples of decent work being done positively as models rather than negatively as "man I could never do that" because for all you know you really could given enough practice.

Of course, if real life gives me good reason to post about sex, kittens, sushi, or hippies, I will gladly do so. Take it upon yourself if you see fit to make it so!
Tags: hippies, kittens, sex, sushi
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