Monday, September 5, 2016


Imagine if you will, you are lying on a field of grass in an open meadow, the declining sun casting its golden hue that you are not aware of, except with the brightness cast on the cloaked retina. Imagine the thoughts of the preceding days clashing within the mind. Imagine that some thoughts cling on to others, like glue, while others fall away in a dried heap. Imagine further that the links between the glued thoughts grow firm and attract others together. Imagine the smell of the grass wafts in like a catalyst opening bonds and closing others between those thoughts. Those inaccessible thoughts stacked into layers of consciousness can suddenly be accessed by the prudence of a relational dynamic insight. Imagine all that and what do you suppose would happen?

Some have solved problems while buoyed by water, others have allowed the miseries of an industrial London to form the basis of classic literature while still others have surprised themselves after being trapped in a hopeless spiral of confusion and colliding thoughts with an answer while resting or awakening from a deep sleep. 

To say that every idea or innovation comes from such bonding would be erroneous. Not having experienced such a transformative explosion of thought confluence or not having entertained any weighty matters or simply having being confined to the empiricism of reductive thoughts, it is difficult to imagine, such a concept. As one such mathematician named Evariste Galois claimed, “Science progresses by a series of combinations where chance plays not even the smallest of parts.” Unfortunate for Galois, he died at the age of 21 in a duel, never recognized by his contemporaries including Poisson for the genius within. Imagine had he lived…there would have been more time, more reflection, more layers of contextual content and more eurekas?

The wonders of free thought is the wonder of finding solutions. After working on a problem over many days trying to find if a straight line that did not meet the vertices of a triangle could not intersect the sides of that triangle, Roland Dobrushin determined he could not solve the problem, because he did not understand “the straight line.” He won the mathematic prize with that comment. Imagine that, stepping down the rungs of the ladder into the deep, dark hole and finding no light replied as he did. All answers seemed to lead to the “mystery within Euclid’s geometry.”

The question then arises, “Does knowledge flow downwards, or does it boil up from the depths?” It is a question long forgotten by the modern minds. Knowledge to them is a series of concatenations inspired by "their applied wisdom." This follows in such things as curricula where Chapter One precedes Chapter Two and after Chapter Twenty the student is no wiser for it. The teacher reads the written words, answers the questions contained from the instructor cheat sheets and the student grades are graphed on the Gaussian curve. From outlier to outlier, no one steps back to understand the motive behind the year spent. What was Hazard Ratio or the Regression Line supposed to represent? What made Galois go on a duel the night before, fearing his death, pen his thoughts and experiments and send to his friend? What was Archimedes’ “Eureka” moment and what significance did it have for whom and why? 

As the candle extinguishes and the hand that holds the pen losses it’s grip, ink falls on the paper below creating the ink-splotch, the morning sun might reveal an answer to the problems from the splotch itself and another “Eureka” moment arrives. Such are the moments that explode from the merger of ideas when the mind is freed from conjecture. As Friedrich August KekulĂ© von Stradonitz found out that the ring structure of benzene came to him in a dream where a snake was eating its own tail or Newton seeing an apple fall discovered gravity, are examples of those eureka moments that defy plod through a problem mechanism, and arriving at the truth, redefines the need for cerebral lateralization to conjure up links in the peace of rest.

Gavin Weightman in “Eureka; how invention happens” states, “But time and again, even in the twentieth century, those innovations which have transformed our lives have been pioneered not by the big guns of established industries or the laboratories of the most brilliant scientists but by a few visionaries who had the temerity to imagine they could make the impossible possible.”

Modern day educating is about “crossing the Ts and dotting the Is.” The mind is never encouraged to expand the horizons of understanding. The written word is forced as the crucible of knowledge. One wonders even to this day how those that create and innovate do so given the mountains of busywork in learning?

The answer comes from the few who have expanded the largest spheres of knowledge and understanding; Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Michael Dell (Dell Computer), Julian Assange (Wikileaks Founder) and Evan Williams (Twitter). Most times it is the slow boil of an idea that curriculum cannot address, which becomes the new paradigm. Other times it is an experiment that succeeds accidentally at a scale not fathomed and still other times it is the ingenuity of cobbling up parts to make and distribute hardware from a dorm that breaks the mold. Indeed, as Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi wondered; the heart, gives the sense of union, the mind, a sense of reflection and the hand, work through action, sequentially and concurrently as they conspire to create innovations and advance human thought. All imagined! All inductive! All creations, sans curriculum! 

Imagine what you can do with an idle moment of thought?

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