Danger Will Robinson: negative, rambling verbage ahead that makes no actual point! Aka, bantmof bums himself out
I was digging through a bunch of old boxes of crap that I’ve had sitting around for years and years, and I discovered some old textbooks and notes from my undergraduate days at university back in nineteen …caugh, ahem… let’s just say a while ago.
I started looking through my lecture notes, and I was somewhat taken aback to be reading things in my own handwriting that I can no longer make any sense of. There are formulas that I no longer even recognize, let alone know how to apply - out of context I couldn’t have even told you what discipline they belonged to. Esoteric mathematics that once made sense to me but no longer does. Proofs I cannot understand. Circuit diagrams where I could not even figure out what the hell they implemented, even though I apparently designed them. Solutions to problems I couldn’t solve today to save my sorry butt.
It was depressing, to realize how much is gone; vanished to wherever it is that neglected things vanish to. And what the hell was the point of spending all that effort to learn it in the first place? This stuff is all presumably still just as useful for figuring out whatever it figures out as it ever was, it’s just that I used to understand it and no longer do, and thus am no longer able to figure those things out.
That’s not to say I haven’t learned anything since. But too much of it is “junk knowledge” - the names of the actors in this or that movie, the winner of this and such sporting event, quotes by some or another politician, lyrics to some long forgotten pop song, the relative babe-itude of various supermodels.
Oh, there are useful things mixed in, no doubt - largely things I need to do my job, and a whole smattering of “high level” things about a lot of topics. But the depth has gone from all but a few areas, and now there’s just breadth - the sort of 30,000 foot views you might get from SciAm or Discover.
The whole experience definately left me feeling like I’m steadily getting dumber as I get older. On a day to day basis, it’s not noticeable - I haven’t forgotten much since, say, last Tuesday, except where I left my car keys. But over decades, there’s a difference. It’s like the world is fuzzier now, less comprehensible, as if the glasses through which I peer at it become increasingly opaque with time.
Sorry, I don’t have any real point here… But I’ve a newfound respect for the sorts of people who keep on knowing what they know, even into old age. I’ve met people like, folks in their 70’s, 80’s, who retain all the theory they ever knew, where you feel they could step in with nary moment’s notice and teach any class they ever took. I am more impressed at that now.
peas on earth