Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Thoughts Part IX- SQUIRREL!

I confess- the past few days I have been ignoring the little "SAT Prep Question of the Day" email that magically appears in my email inbox every 24 hours. Or perhaps not so magically. After all, I was the one who clicked the "sign me up for free practice!' button on the SAT registration website.
I love free stuff. I used to have study-related web apps galore. Until recently, my bookmarks folder burgeoned with links to copies of the Lord's Prayer in French, time zone charts, and sketches of ancient Greek apparel. With Wikipedia embedded in my online dictionary, I had millions of files, pictures, and links at my personal disposal. It was great fun bookmarking all that stuff.
I learned practically nothing.

After a while I made the very unoriginal observation that perhaps less information is more. (Actually, I think my mom made that observation to me...and then I just sort of reobserved it. And invented the aforementioned word in the process. I deserve a gold sticker!) But back to the topic...
Unfortunately, the famous missionaries who learned complicated tribal languages with the help of only a few poorly written textbooks and a group of indigenous speakers had no flash card apps on their laptops and smart phones. They had smart brains (an ingenious invention, I must say!) and willing hearts.

The best introductions to classic books I have read were written by people who clearly loved the volume they introduced and were not intent on peppering their readers with facts. Recently I wrote about C.S. Lewis' view on old books. Although I thoroughly respect the stereotypical British scholar (pipe and all)- it was refreshing to read something that was shockingly subjective. Shockingly honest. Shockingly...well, simple.

Honestly, I appreciate nearly all introductions I've read. But after you read a good book cover to cover and suddenly wake up one night and realized it changed your view on life you will probably not care for the introduction very much.

So there you have my view on introductions- those helpful (but often boring) creatures that pack an extra serving of knowledge into your book.

I am reading Augustine for a good part of this semester. I don't care if I haven't read online biographies about Augustine, or missed out on some "amaaaaaaazing study guide." (I dare you to read "amaaaaazing" without bleating like a sheep, by the way.)

Basically, I plan to read Augustine without frantically bookmarking sites about him every hour.

What a simple plan.

No comments: