Monday, November 17, 2008

The Consequences of Technical Education

I started this blog two or so years back and I am ashamed to see the few posts, and worst of all the lack of creativity in my writing. Those so-called abilities of mine have either rusted or just gone. I am sad. There was a time when I couldn't stop writing, and used to easily fill pages and pages out of mere nothing. Now I struggle to get through a page :(.

I blame it on my technical education. Engineering started and it left me with hardly any time to read good books. I was caught with the necessity to read technical books, non-fiction-course-related-jargon-laden books. And then there were two years of my Masters during which time I had impeccable training on technical writing, with a perfectionist of a professor not happy with 18 pages of my writing when a conference paper was only supposed to be 8 pages long. I have imbibed tricks and tips to shorten sentences, to avoid adjectives, to use as minimal words as possible, to be careful of the choice of words, to be precise and to the point, to eliminate speculation and just state facts. And I am now reduced to a creativity drained "scientist" who starts to reason about statistical validity and logicality of statements, who even reasons while watching animation movies :( (How can a giraffe be attracted to a hippo?!). I am extremely saddened.

I should probably shift focus from training just one part of my brain (whatever that is) and start using both sides of my brain...Interestingly I have just realized from one of the papers I read, that one cannot really demarcate the left and right sides of the brain and attribute them to talents. It's true that some modules (that help us draw for example), are located on a distinct side. But every activity is such a complex amalgamation of various modules of the brain spread in so many domains that one cannot really call a person right or left brained. And that shows you how I have started viewing everything around me in terms of facts and experiments.

I cringed away from biology and medicine because I was too idealistic to see the human body as mere flesh and bones, and to talk and study about it like a machine, in a matter of fact. Now I am studying the human brain/cognition, and day by day I realize that I am studying the mind as a machine.... far worse. But if there is one thing that I am all the more intrigued about, it is the complexity of living beings. Each branch of science has been struggling to discover the ultimate mysteries and is ventured in the quest for truth. We all stumble upon one major block that is almost impossible to be answered or unraveled. All branches of science seem to assemble at this junction where they each have a question - a single question that holds the key to many fundamental questions. This question seems to be the borderline between Science and Spirituality. For example, consciousness. Some scientists have written proofs as to why it is impossible to study, let alone figure out consciousness. "What is it being like a bat?", is a popular phrase. "What is it being like me?"... is it the same as being like you? Can I experience what is it that you are?

I tried to answer that question to myself... What is it being like me. And it led me to this weird state of feeling, where I felt like a third person looking at this girl and what she was going about doing. It gave rise to a whole lot of interesting, albeit creepy thoughts about who I really am, where I came from, where will I go in the end, is consciousness nothing but my soul... etc. Half way along I realized that those questions are precursors to lead one on a spiritual quest... a quest for self-realization. It's not surprising that most renowned scientists were also philosophers. It almost seems inevitable. I am not equating myself to a good scientist, let alone even a scientist, but it's a wonderful revelation to reach this juncture where I am humbled by Nature and its creations. It has opened my mind to questions that I merely dismissed a few years back; it has made me question those "facts" of life that I took for granted.

So yes, it is a curse that I have become too inquisitive about life and I have already started doing crazy things like placing my phone in the fridge and running around in circles, but I hope I haven't lost all of my idealism and insane imaginations.

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