How useful is knowledge?

Thursday September 9, 2021

My grasshopper mind is easily distracted; most things seem more interesting than the job in hand. Having had 18 months in ‘solitary confinement’, or ‘splendid isolation’ the time has passed somehow. 2/3 hours suffice to keep me clean and fed, and the house above the squalor category. Gardening an hour a day if possible. Limit to how much reading I can do, picky about TV. Knitting and music good combination, calming use of fingers, creativity and eyes get a rest. But it is Open University ‘Future Learn’ which has been a saving grace. I’ve done loads of courses: have I learned anything? Will it serve any purpose other than filling a few more hours? A bit of analysis seemed in order.

It was more pertinent today, with Walter’s blog on disciplining the mind, and the Chinese philosophies. I did two courses on Buddhism, useless. I am not hyper-critical (I hope) but they failed on all counts. Technical presentation appalling (surprising knowing Chinese technology). The presenters’ English was hardly understandable. So, you could say they were doing their best, lecturing in another language. But I’m English, and could not understand. Covid has made Future Learn so popular that ‘students’ are world-wide. How is a German, Japanese, Spanish person supposed to understand. The third criticism that they used so many Buddhist terms and quotations that you needed an enormous glossary.

Best courses, for me – were on literature – the detective novel – literature and the country house. Social problems were well covered: religious conflict, propaganda and ideology, planning cities to suit everybody. I am on my second logic course, but have to conclude that my mind is illogical. One that really worked for me was ‘Demystifying Mindfulness’, excellently presented, strong emphasis on the philosophers, practical exercises in relaxation. It came at the lowest point of Covid for me, third lock-down here, no foreseeable date to meet up with my family again, long, dark, lonely winter. I tried a second course, presenter’s voice drove me mad. I ‘failed’ two tries at Yoga, the teachers had silly voices and said silly things – seemed to think we (the paying customers) were putty and half-witted to boot.

I do not know how many I did on global warming and climate change. Every university on the planet seems to have had a go. Many were excellent, presentation, research, fair (ish) arguments rather than ranting at globalisation and corrupt politicians. The snag, and a big one, is that none had been done since Covid started, many before 2016. They were therefore pre Brexit, Covid and Trump. This made many of the courses’ content obsolete, overtaken by events. I count Trump in, because pre 2016 it seemed that there was a glimmer of hope that the major powers would start believing that global warming was real, then Trump pooh-poohs the idea, and pulls out of agreements. Covid caused chaos in the world economy, taking money which may have been designated to better use.

Don’t know what it’s all done for me, though!

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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