Outside the Circle

I had an insight this morning, when I woke up after a couple hours’ sleep, trying to finish my book 11. The insight was that an entire chapter is missing, so once again I will not have time to finish and who knows how many years will go by before I can find a few clear weeks once again to try to get the whole thing in my head at the same time.

And then I connected that up with our modern inability to see anything but the bits and pieces (reductionism) of our lives, and something I wrote about teaching people to think about one thing at a time. That memory was about a highly respected teacher of university level teachers, who told me I was doing bad teaching and “unfair” if I required a student to know more than one bit of information per test question. Astonished me speechless, because if I were to actually DO that, it would be impossible to teach biology. All emergent properties would fall apart if they only functioned one bit at a time. Everything is connected. If we can’t understand that —

Oh, yes, we haven’t taught biology for at least three generations. Well, now we know where that came from.

So it becomes impossible to see the big picture because we simply can’t think about a big picture one bit at a time. Climate change is one example. All the people who are trying to pretend it isn’t so (even though we could have saved ourselves if we had stopped pretending) they are all looking at one thing at a time, and so long as they can believe that thing is manageable, they are happy even as we drown.

Because that’s what I was doing. I was looking at one picture at a time, trying to make it perfect for the photo book, and forgot the book was missing an entire chapter. Without one of its chapters, it doesn’t matter if the pictures are perfect because there is no book.

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