Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cognitive Lozenges

Three Slog readers this week separately told me they needed to reread a posting. They were apologetic, figuring they're slow on the uptake.

Not at all. Slog postings are intentionally designed to reward - and even require - multiple re-readings. See those "Popular Entries" listed on the extreme left side of the page? I've read each of them a dozen or more times, myself. And I wrote them!

I understand the appeal of disposable snippets of leisure reading. I, too, consume plenty of that (and, for years, produced it). It confirms what we already believe, or offers new detail in topics of interest. But how much of it is surprising? The same ideas are endlessly re-churned.

Here, I aim to offer mostly new ideas. Not cleverly rebundled same-old, but unique takes you won't find elsewhere, and which may prompt you to reframe your perspective. That's my proposition; my shtick.
(It's not that every thought in my head is original; it's just that I don't post anything that isn't. I have plenty of conventional ideas and opinions, but can't imagine why you'd want want to hear me repeat what everyone else says. We live in a world where seven billion people say about forty seven things. It bores me, and I don't want to bore you.)
These postings are cognitive lozenges which, by design, impede speedy absorption (by, for example, forcing you to unpack phrases like "cognitive lozenges"). The ideas that absorb me are counterintuitive and nuanced, and while I always leave a breadcrumb trail, I choose not to spoon-feed (having worked as a professional spoon-feeder for years). I want you to work it all through, as I have, and maybe go further than I could.

For example, I would never expect anyone to completely grok "Marilyn" Syndrome on first reading. While confirmation bias swallows readily, surprising observations can't be hastily gulped. So if you find yourself retracing, that doesn't reflect on your smarts. Nor does it mean I'm eccentric or needlessly obscure...or that I've failed to be clear. This is what I'm aiming for!

We are accustomed to writers pre-masticating their stuff into a slurpy paste for instant digestion. That treatment works for conventional notions, but, again: Surprising observations can't be hastily gulped. If you're gulping, you're not grokking!

I read super slowly. Like "slow child" slow, even with the most conventional writing. I've tried speed reading classes, but it dawned on me that they were training me to reflect less; to abandon my entire purpose for reading in the first place. Writing that's so gussied up that it deserves to be skimmed is bad writing that doesn’t deserve to be read. If I'm trying to get through a piece of reading as swiftly as possible, with the least effort and commitment, then why exactly am I reading? I don't get it!

Efficiency has become so paramount that we've lost our original purpose for doing the things we do. We breathlessly await the train, then, once aboard, we can hardly wait for our stop. When do we finally arrive at the destination we've been hustling all our lives to reach? Why not now?


Display Name said...

I read very slowly too Jim. Reading one of Rowling's adult books right now and I am in no hurry to finish it. Enjoying it too much. I try never to be in a hurry unless I have a damn good reason. Not only do I get beeped and yelled at while driving but at least three times in the last week I have been practically run down by other pedestrians when walking. I am a sheep in a world of Shelties. Children don't seem to worry about being efficient. Or prioritizing. The day I learned to value my time was necessary I guess but did not make me happier. Besides possibly dying to road rage my other problem is sandwiches with tomatoes from frankenfield. Had one yesterday and one today. First one had mortadella and the one today had bacon. No matter how much I tell myself to slow the hell down those vehicles for fresh ripe tomatoes just vanish.

Jim Leff said...

I would be surprised if any of the billions of us has ever died with the regret that they hadn’t been more efficient.

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