Friday, November 11, 2005

random access apologetic part 5

Since I think this way, of course I believe that web-based, or random access thinking allows for a greater number of possible explanations and freedom to explore and contemplate. It allows me to differentiate symptoms from their underlying causes, and to avoid generalizations that misunderstand cause and effect. It allows for the assimilation of bits of information that haven’t been collected in sequence. It allows for the acceptance and storage of information that doesn’t yet seem to fit into what I already know. It allows me to get terribly confused and follow trails that are of no benefit, or are dangerous, but it allows me to undo them and start again – to re-order. It allows for mystery and belief of the unexplainable.
I’ve never been sorry my mind works this way, only sorry that it is very difficult sometimes for linear, logical, if-this-then-that, thinkers to follow. I call those people powerpoint thinkers. They have a slide on the screen, and the only possible direction to travel from there is forward or back, one slide at a time. One thing leads to another. And it bores me to tears. In my brain, anything leads to anywhere, and if you check out for a minute, you’ll have no idea which turn I took.
In the classroom, I often quickly fill up the white board, and continue. When I need to write something down, I look for a space between other scribbles in which to jot down a word, symbol, phrase, illustration, etc. Half-way through class I glance at the board and wonder if the students are making any sense of what is written. I’ve used this as an illustration of attempting to understand or even experience temporal art at once. Mozart is said to have been able to do this. He is thought to have experienced an entire piece of music at once – as if it were visual art. Once he’d heard a piece, it didn’t have to play linearly in his head for him to recall the entire thing.
When I’ve talked about this with my students, I explain that I’ve presented information temporally, and have written on the board as I went. Finally, everything we’ve talked about is contained on the board, but not necessarily linearly. If the student has been there all along, he can access the information on the board randomly, and doesn’t have to revisit the conversation sequentially. I believe that this causes us to process the information in a different way than it was originally presented and immediately inhibits the danger of storing it without processing it. Mozart could surely understand form better because he could experience the development of thematic ideas at the same time as he was experiencing the exposition. The “fit” of information is more easily recognizable if one allows himself to jump non-sequentially to any bit of other information.
Powerpoint, and powerpoint thinking, not only impede this out-of-sequence processing, but make it virtually impossible.
Some things simply can’t be understood sequentially.