Posts tagged ‘science’

August 13, 2010

The Case for Humanities: Pt. 2

Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, regards the imbalance of our society as a favoring of one brain hemisphere over another. The left, concerned with sequential reasoning, logical processing, and language syntax, has been the seat of economic prosperity for much of the last century. But in the new era, which Pink calls the Conceptual Age, technology and economics will largely render those abilities immaterial to personal success. If a computer can do your job more cheaply, or if your skills can be outsourced in any way, Pink argues that your left-brainedness could use an infusion of right-brain approaches. The right hemisphere concerns simultaneous, contextual, abstract mental processes. Humor, language interpretation, creativity—all these reside in the brain’s right hemisphere. Historically, creativity has not been valued monetarily—especially in American society. However, in the Conceptual Age, Pink believes jobs like designer, artist, teacher, and storyteller will be the ones concerned mothers subtly push their children toward. The great human skills of the next age include narrative, humor, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to find meaning. If this is so, then the humanities have as much value as the sciences in the coming era. Beyond the philosophical values, an education including the humanities will reap eminently measurable economic rewards. This is the future we face.

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September 23, 2009

“The Science of Swings”

Night looms, but how could we pass by a swingset? It is eternally correct to mount a swing on a fall night, like a schoolchild grasping hard at what strands of summer remain. All the more under sleepy orange sodium-vapor lamps screaming night even louder than the indigo sky. So we grasp the plastic-coated chain links, sit tentatively on the slight rubber curves that, mercifully, had dried from the earlier rain. We shove airborne from the mulch.

And we become wave motion, making between us a lattice of our respective amplitudes and frequencies, our crests and troughs. When in phase, I turn to look at you. I have always reveled more in the upswing than the backswing. Some prefer the back; it’s the anticipation I suppose, of all the joy waiting at the top of the arc. This, they say, is more enjoyable than the apogee itself.

I want to hang at the top of a swing forever; I wish my inner ear would keep rising higher ‘til I lose all sense of balance, sense of self, to childlike exultation. Here is flight for us common earthbound.

I breathe a bit easier when you close your eyes on the upswing, kicking out hard to remain weightless a moment longer, exactly as I do. I know we will leap into the mulch at the same time, and return to this swingset tomorrow. The next day too, if the weather doesn’t puddle the seats.





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