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[Xmca-l] Rationalism and Imagination
You wrote, reflecting on something Larry had written, about seeing how "the connection between rationalism and the way that imagining gets drained of its affectiveness in the process of becoming something stable enough to call a representation. In musing about this, I thought of perhaps some examples that might or might not illustrate what you are pointing at and would be interested in your reaction:
1. I grew up with radio and as a boy would listen spellbound to stories and adventure programs. As I think back about it, this probably required more than a bit of imagination. As time passed, my family finally got a television. After my first viewing of a TV program that purported to be identical in content with one of those radio programs I so loved, I, underwhelmed, never again watched that program as seeing the characters ‘ finally’ ‘rationally' interpreted was unpleasant (and I really didn’t imagine them on radio as having some sort of fixed image). I have had the same experience, by the way, when seeing a movie that follows closely a book I have read. Somehow, one might say, my imagination was stifled by fixedness of those visual representations. I, to this day, still find TV, for the most part, stifling in regards to imagination.
2. A number of years ago I came across a web summary of book in somewhat diary form written by a mathematician writing about the education of his son - I have tried again and gain to locate that book (I seem to remember the mathematician was either French or Polish) so if by some chance anybody has run across the same let me know! One passage in particular stood out. The mathematician was talking about his son struggling with some sort of mathematics problem. He noted that he took the time to sit down with his son and show him how to solve the problem. The mathematician continues in his diary that he then reflected on how, in this early intervention, he had ruined the pleasure of doing mathematics - perhaps forever - for his son. [As a side note, as part of a research team of mathematics educators we often traded mathematics problems around - abilities were varied from those with, one might say, little mathematics to those who were well known research mathematicians. - so the problems were doable by most. A rule, which I follow to this day, is you don’t spoil a problem for another by telling them the solution. Research mathematicians are very bad about this - mainly because they get excited - and I remember scolding one (smile)!]