Archive for October, 2013

theater of the mind

I guess I’ve got a weird imagination. There is real estate commercial on the radio lately that has a father in a swimming pool talking to his little girl. He says come on, jump in, and she says she’s not sure, the water’s cold. A pause, and then he says, try over here. She jumps in and says that was fun.

Now, in the theater of my mind, I am asking myself what did the father do to an area of he pool to warm it up for his daughter. If you have a mind a bit twisted like mine, I can only think of one thing, but I’m sure the image of the father peeing in the pool to warm up the water isn’t what the advertiser intended. I wonder if there is a video version that I haven’t seen that would clarify that.

That, or I’m right.

Intellectuals and Society – Thomas Sowell

Quite simply, this is an analysis of the role of the intellectual in our society. Sowell defines an intellectual as someone whose occupation starts and ends with ideas, as opposed to someone, like an engineer, who takes ideas and develops them into real world applications. He mentions many professions that are populated by intellectuals; academics, writers, teachers, and philosophers, for example. He states that an intellectual is someone who does not ultimately bear the responsibility for implementing, nor the consequences of, his or her ideas. Additionally, intellectuals generally do not subject their ideas to objective verification, nor do they feel it necessary to do so.

The first part of this book I found a bit difficult. It was as though the author was creating a lantern by catching fireflies one at a time. It worked in the end, but took a while to get there. At times I felt that he was trying too hard to make what seemed to me to be an obvious point. Better, I guess, to make sure the foundation is complete than to assume that everyone is already working from the same base.

The best parts of the book, to me, were the historical examples Sowell offers. Broadening my knowledge of history is exciting to me, and to see it in the context of intellectualism was illuminating.

Those who believe that ideas alone are enough, are not going to appreciate this book. People who understand that ideas have consequences, and who are willing to examine those consequences, will more likely take something of value from this book. If you are interested in the subject, I would recommend this book, as well as many of the other books Thomas Sowell has written.

(Finished 10/8/13)