Daily Archives: February 6, 2008

Writing as seeing

Reading “The Generative Properties of Richness” by Karl Weick (h/t to Ted), he brought up this great quotation from  the recollections of a former student of Louis Agassiz, a Swiss-born zoologist and geologist.

After forcing his students to spend hours staring at a fish and asking them to explain what they really saw (and muttering “No, that is not right” in a guttural Swiss accent, I suppose) one of these poor/lucky students starts to draw the fish.  Agassiz clucks:

‘That is right, a pencil is one of the best eyes.’

I love it.  I know that I don’t really own, or get, an idea until I commit finger to keyboard, pen to paper.

What is often frustrating though is that to do such writing, such seeing, means I need to  take the time to write a lot more.  For example, I always  wanted to take copious reading notes on anything I read.  But  the pressures to finish, to make progress, to show results means I don’t.  and then you end up with the ridiculous situation where you have “forgotten” you read an article untill you discover two copies with notes.

At least it is affirming when they underlining is 90% the same.  yeah consistency of consciousness!

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