Monday, July 15, 2013

Autodidact, Like the Sound of It

I have favored some words simply because of the way they look, the way the sound or the very nature of them. For instance, I like the word apple because of the way it looks when written. I occasionally eat apples too, but it's the word I like. I like the nature of a few words too. For instance, I love the German word aufheben which means both to preserve and to annul at the same time. And as far as the way a word sounds, I like autodidact.

What is an autodidact? Why, it's a self-taught person. However, I find that anyone who claims to be an autodidact is oftentimes full of shit. Not to say that there aren't those who are self-taught, but I find those people will not claim to be anything other than what they are. Furthermore, someone who is self-taught has probably sought out the help of others by taking a course of study and reading books. Be that as it may, I still like the way the word sounds.

What does it take to be self-taught? Three things I can think of right off the cuff is: desire, disciple and dedication. I suddenly sound like a 1990s motivational poster and I really haven't said anything. The desire is easy enough, if you want to learn something, that's the desire. The disciple is tough for most of us. In order to really learn something, you must read, study, practice and repeat it and even then, it may not be enough. Which is the dedication portion of it. Take that desire, add in some disciple to the study and practice of it and then dedicate yourself for a period of time. In that period of time there will be good days and bad days and even then it may not happen the way you'd think. For instance, learning to scuba dive, play the bagpipes or learn ancient Sanskrit can be a huge undertaking and it is unlikely that anyone can learn this by reading a few books, wiki articles and watching YouTube tutorials.

Well what about trying it out? Well, I'm trying something these days. I'm trying my patience, my time and my inclination toward photography. Will I be self-taught? Will I cross into the status of an autodidact? Unlikely, but I'm having some fun learning about it, learning about myself and using all the available resources I can find.

Reading is a good place to start. I cannot express how important I think reading is for the human brain. I suppose if I was a spiritual person, I would claim that reading is good for the soul. Reading is a slow engaging act. I write fiction. I am a writer. I think I read a great many book before I started writing. Yes, I've heard the claim that reading 100 books on a subject will may the reader an expert. I think most, if not all writers of fiction have read well over 100 books. I think it's more likely in the thousands. Reading is important, I doubt there is anyone out there reading this that would disagree.

Wanna be an autodidact? Start reading. Then what? Put what you read to use. Practice. Then, from the point of view of a writer, write it down. I find writing, much like reading is a slow process. It's an individual process. It's quiet. Taking knowledge and writing it down, in short: read this and put it in your own words, is really learning something.

The apple may be the fruit of knowledge. We give apples to our teachers. And of course, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Whatever it is we hope to gain, well, aufheben. Preserve it. What we annul, well, that's perhaps another conversation for another time. Read, learn, seek the help of others. Grow. Become an autodidact. It sure beats wasting away another day anesthetized with TV and gadgetry. If you claim to be an autodidact keep the claim close. Those who boast and give big names to their activities somehow lose credibility.

In the coming weeks, I sure would love to tell you about my recent experiences with photography.

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