Tag Archives | solitude

How do you learn to think?

Ian Sane (CC BY 2.0)

Ian Sane (CC BY 2.0)

This was taken from William Deresiewicz’s 2010 lecture “Solitude and Leadership.”

If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts.

Let’s start with how you don’t learn to think. A study by a team of researchers at Stanford came out a couple of months ago. The investigators wanted to figure out how today’s college students were able to multitask so much more effectively than adults. How do they manage to do it, the researchers asked? The answer, they discovered—and this is by no means what they expected—is that they don’t. The enhanced cognitive abilities the investigators expected to find, the mental faculties that enable people to multitask effectively, were simply not there. In other words, people do not multitask effectively. And here’s the really surprising finding: the more people multitask, the worse they are, not just at other mental abilities, but at multitasking itself.

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The Politics of Eremitism

Meng-hu writes at hermit’s thatch:

The folly of society attempted to change itself and its course using the same contrived tools that brought it to its present precipice is an important lesson for the solitary.

Intrinsic to power and authority are the means of retaining and replicating itself, and these tools cannot be relinquished without self-destruction. Even such a devolution would not last. Some other aspirant to power and control would quickly fill the vacuum. This process could be described as an evolutionary instinct: the instinct of self-preservation and reproduction. Except that we are not speaking of individuals but of social and political institutions, of cultures and circles of power. Hence, the analogy of instincts is not accurate, but the desire for power and the extension and preservation of power is a good description.

The solitary already senses that institutions and organizations are not authentic beings. Indeed, they are abstractions, projections of individuals holding power, extending their power into families, associates, dynasties, cultural institutions, and ultimately into strong political, social, economic institutions, organizations, and structures.

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