Brainwashing?

As always I enjoyed our discussion yesterday evening…… but I wanted to say something about my use of the term “brainwashing”

I think Sean’s frustrations with the text’s digressions are shared at times by all of us.  My use of the term brainwashing was extreme but I don’t think it applies just to linear thinkers, nor did I mean it as pejorative as it may have sounded last night.

What I was trying to say is that we all are brainwashed in our way of processing information,,,, we’re creatures of our time… just as my bricklaying grandfather had meticulous penmanship, I write fairly decently. and this year I’ve had to deal with students who are whizzes at computer graphics and can’t seem to use their hands to draw or cut and paste. Hand skills change with the demands of time; so too do thinking skills.

My point is that we are all brainwashed: taught to think in the linear constructs of our culture.  As (the great) Bob Marley said ” We build your penitentiaries, we build your schools, brainwash, educate us and make us your fools”  To the degree that higher education has become high level jobs training and not a liberal education Bob has an overstated but  valid point.  Even Academia (or at least many of the souls that seem to dwell within it) can be seen as another high end job training program.  Which is why I love our little ad hoc reading group so much and don’t want to be branded as someone biased against linear thinkers – hey, I wish I could be one!

Which gets me to what I look for in the writings of H – his “digressions”:   For me, the  two primary interests are the existential and human constants of a person’s life regardless of the era in which he/she lived and the specific cultural uniqueness that was then and except for documentation is now lost forever. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the facts of warfare and history. or that Sean and I are oppositional voices.  In fact he and I were the two individuals most skeptical at the number of troops, and I found one of the most fascinating chapters the descriptions of bridge building – which I would have been more skeptical of, had I not seen the article on Inca bridges in last week’s Times.

As for the business world – the way I see it;  its the seat of contemporary power….. why would I not expect it to attract the best and the brightest – and to honor those folks? but …. I wouldn’t admit to bias against such folks except to say that they think differently than I do and seem to my limited experience to place a premium on efficiency of thought. 

The entrepreneur I used to work for was very linear and focused, but he was also very able to think outside the box, to bring his full attention to something and work it through in a unique way.  I really respect that.  This individual didn’t waste time with addenda and diversions: he was a man of action.  I think he was like Darius and the type of person Xerxes would have liked to be.

In a way the different ways of thinking are like Xerxes and Artabanus conversation in Book 7 chapter 48 (which reminds me of Zorba the Greek and the famous  dialogue about water: Zorba says ” if you look at it under the microscope you will never drink it, and you’ll die of thirst”)

I’m not saying all business people are like Darius, but he was a type that I recognize, decisive and proactive, just as visual people are of a different type.  Unfortunately in modern American society we are increasingly associating only with people of our economic caste, class and type.  I think that it is dangerous when we limit ourselves and become biased and brand one another.

Hope this makes it clearer, I love all our different voices.

Fondly

Hedy

PS I forgot to mention last night how surprised to find three things in chapter 7 First chapter 16 b that ” dreams do not come from God…..” ; then the existential burden of chapter 46 “this makes life, despite its brevity seem all too long,”; and finally that  old saw “if you could share your problems with a group of other people you’d want to leave with your own” to paraphrase chapter 152.

PPS When I looked up the citation for the last entry I rediscovered this gem of H. speaking in his own voice:  ” My business is to record what people say, but I am no means bound to believe it, – and that may be taken to apply to this book as a whole.” pg. 468 ch.152.  looks like H. nailed it!

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One Response to Brainwashing?

  1. May 16, 2007 at 11:53 AM says:

    <p>I understand your points Hedy. The digressions are part and parcel of Greek literary thinking since Homer, which every student studied as the model of writing. The fact that Herodotus wanders from Homer’s digressions when he does is revolutionary and is the birth of "history" in its written form. I also wanted to bring up the quote you cited below but we ran out of time!!<br>Andre</p>

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