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In by Michael on September 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Starting a book, reading the first sentences and paragraphs, is always a painful experience for me. You’ve got a guy in a cab talking to the driver, and the writer tells you what the guy is holding and what the cab driver is wearing (corduroys) and you have no idea whether the book’s about the guy or the cabbie or the history of corduroy pants, and you don’t know which details to pay attention to because they matter, and which ones you can let go of because you’re not here to memorize each word. I don’t know how I survive.

  1. Lately, I’ve been thinking about it like this:

    When I’m out experiencing the world, exposed to a bewildering amount of details and unable to puzzle them together, what I’m doing is building my vocabulary. You can’t make sentences (i.e. conclusions) if you don’t have that base vocabulary to work from.

    And if you were able to pick out only the details that mattered, then it would mean that you were clairvoyant and knew the conclusion before you started. That seems pretty impossible in most cases.

    Maybe the bigger the vocabulary we have, the more bewildered we become. On the other hand, maybe a bigger vocabulary will lead to more nuanced, ground-truthed arguments, eventually.

  2. Ha is this intro from american psycho maybe?

  3. Chris- I think that the job of picking out details that matter is one of the big paradoxes of life. It’s not possible to do, and you do get better with practice, but the bewilderment never ends.

    Lara- Yeah, vaguely. That’s probably the least weird page of that book.

  4. Haha, that’s awesome. Liking the post, likin the comments 🙂

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