Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Second Hand Information

I don't read magazines. Just the thought of trying to keep up with them exhausts me. Anyway, I'm guessing the dazzling selection of magazines I see at news stands and supermarket displays do not reflect any meaningful long term body of knowledge. It is pretty safe to say that the greater proportion of these periodicals are padded with insignificant drivel and mostly regurgitate the same stuff, over and over, in order to meet the publication's weekly deadline.

We get a daily paper here, the Globe and Mail, and a quarterly gardening magazine and an unfathomable weekly publication called The Newyorker. It is all my wife can do to stay ahead of this amount of reading material. My daughter can hardly keep up with the cartoons. I dont even try anymore.

I have decided that the volume of information around the world, made available to the common public, in the form of magazines, is not worth bothering with. Many of these articles are "set down without rigour and challenging no one and nothing at all, unless it's the reader's already shrunken attention span" (Byeli Gottlieb)

How wise is it to be constantly trying to stay plugged into every article that comes along purporting to be about some subject or other that we are interested in. I figure creatively speaking, any inspiration or wisdom contained therein will more likely be lost in an ever writhing sea of works and publications, that I know I still haven't read. While it may be true 'nature abhors a vacuum', quietness and voluntary unknowing, like a vacuum, insulate me from all this journalistic hot air and the glossy array of printed, processed 'cold cuts'.

Because it can never be successfully assimilated, it is better to let this continuous flow of printed material merely slide by, unabridged. We shouldn't allow anything to 'gloss over' the fact that first hand experience is far more important than any second-hand information we may bombarded with, no matter how well documented it is.


  1. There is a lot in what you say. However second hand information can be a great help. I had been workijng for about ten years tying knots on the end of my walling string. Then suddenly I was told of a much simpler way. Other folks knowledge can be such a help, the difficulty is sorting out the good bits from the mass of rubbish.

  2. True. I put your string thing in the first hand experience category. Reading about how to do it would be a helpful way to learn too, but as we know, you would have probably had to untangle a lot of advertisements and useless information before you got there.