Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Who remembers these?

I remember seeing these from time to time when I was growing up. Sometimes I got them, sometimes I didn't--I was young at the time.

AVI suggested somewhere that The Two Cultures would be useful to read (it's around here somewhere, I think--haven't gotten to it). Everybody knows the gist, though. And yet I wonder--many of the STEM folk I know are pretty widely read. My former supervisor studied Ukrainian on the side (and ran a small farmette and also owned and managed an apartment building in Aspen). We ran into the new manager of IceCube at the opera a couple of months ago. And I remember reading parts of the self-evaluation the University required of its various departments some years ago, and being more favorably impressed with the literary style of the Physics Department's than of the English Department's section.

People don't know what's solid and what's fashion outside their fields. I can't be bothered to read Derrida. Or to try to plow through Joyce's Ulysses--the ROI looks ridiculously low. (The original was fun, though.) Lewis' rule of thumb that old books survived because they were solid seems like a good one, but it leaves you out of touch with the modern fashions of one culture.

On the other side, though in the opposite direction, people who try to keep up with bleeding edge science as misreported in the media don't get a good feel for what's solid in science. (Multiverse anyone? I get questions about it all the time, and give the same answer: Nah, not real.) I wonder if that difference in direction is significant: classic vs current?

I shouldn't give the wrong impression, though: those STEM folks know more movies and anime than seems possible given only 24 hours in a day.

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