These random thoughts have not only been ‘random’, but also quite ‘sporadic’ these days, The only consistent postings have been ‘project 365′ photos. So, it’s good to make brief return.
Why so little blogging? Well, maybe because much of my online life is more limited to Facebook interaction, a bit of Google+ minimally, and more importantly there’s loads happening offline. So, it’s only natural that there’ll be less output in this ‘garden’. Yup, I decided to switch make to my original organic title. Since, life is already full of adventure, perhaps the metaphor of ‘garden’ fits into the slow me down mode which is needed for reflection. Less intense.
On speed and intensity, it’s still quite a journey thus far. Did two PhD courses, one big (15ECTS) and one small (5 ECTS) and another small 5ECTS coming. The first in Kristiansand, the second at Lesbos, Greece, and the upcoming one will be at Uppsala, Sweden. So, three courses at three locations is quite a chunk. But, from a course load point of view I think it’s wise to clear as much as possible. To add some icing on top the big chunk of ‘course’ cake I’ve been devouring, I’ll be off to the American Academy of Religion big ‘party’ in San Francisco, USA before the year wraps up. So, pretty full for year one of the PhD program. Very enjoyable so far.
This blog post will also be a mini landmark where I use my new ‘beginners’ typing skills which took me a month to complete one round of lessons. I still fumble a lot but it’s sped up my finger movements on the keyboard for sure. I plan to still go through the lessons another round just to sharpen this new acquired skill. Good bye to four finger typing, hello to using all the fingers!
Some self-reflection is in order here. I noticed this is basically how I learn. I need to have a overview first, and walk though the lessons at least one round in total. Getting the big picture and then zooming is how it works well for me. And yet, the irony is in order to have some grasp of the big picture, I get there by moving through the bite size lessons to get there. About 22 total for this round. So, the big picture and the details though distinguished, cannot be separated. When one is aiming for a big picture feel, she gets there step by step. There can’t be a big jump.
A side track thought intervenes here. ‘Jumps’ are still needed. But it’s mostly, at least for me, I ‘jump first, fear later’ to decide to move from one phase to another. Once I’ve landed somewhere, it’s ‘looking before the next leap’, and the movement forward a little more gradual in small baby steps. One can’t hurry in learning, and wisdom most surely is not in the paradigm of ‘fast food’.
Next, besides basic typing, I’ve also started my evening Norwegian classes. It was a surreal feeling especially for the first class last Tuesday. It was like a scene right from the old British comedy which by today’s standards totally politically incorrect: “Mind Your Language”. So Mr. Brown is replaced by an older Norwegian lady who reminds me of the best teachers I had in school. The students come from Canada, UK, Tanzania, Ethiopia, China, Poland, Italy, Chechnya, and yours truly Malaysia! Mrs. Torv refuses to use the one to one translation approach to teach us. And to be fair, not all of us are primary English speakers, so right from the word ‘Velkommen!”, it’s been mostly in Norwegian unless really needed. I giggle every time she says “demontrasjon!” (I think that’s how it’s spelt), so a lot of what’s going on is like any primary school language class for kids. This includes a long stick she waves over the whiteboard to walk us through the sentences!
I wonder whether this was what was in Wittgenstein’s mind when he was in Norway. This experience really makes me want to revisit his “Philosophical Investigations” where so much attention in on ‘language’. How do we even begin to speak a new language? I’m very conscious how it works for baby Anja now, especially when she’s surrounded with loads of words, sentences, tones, expressions not only in English and Mandarin, but with occasional Norwegian. So, I’m like Anja in many ways but for Norwegian. If I want to extend this analogy further, I feel the same as I start to navigate my self in academic waters.
I’ve made a little detour from my original big picture/small details discussion, and the relation between them which is not that sharp in actual reality. The language discussion should be a bonus!
It’s already a pretty long post for a return. More another day. There’s a limit of how much a picture and photo can convey. Sure, a picture is worth a million words. But, some times we at least minimally need some words, and not a million words, about a thousand might be in order.