Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Brain Hurts!

I don't know if it's technically plausible or not, but my brain actually hurts these days. I've been working very hard for a couple of weeks now on one of my creative projects and it has me floored, or spinning in circles, or whatever effect it's having. If my "instances" hint in my last comment wasn't enough of a tip-off, I'll share that one of my creative projects involves learning to write computer programs in Java. This is purely as a hobby, a leisure-time pursuit, but also a means to an end -- there are some simple programs that I very much want to write.

In spite of the cold, hard, inhuman logic of it all, programming is actually a very creative activity. It's also a real challenge. Anyone who has ever struggled to make sense out of something they call object-oriented programming will know that it's a bit confusing for someone who knows absolutely nothing about it. I'm very proud of the progress I've made. I'm already close to where I need to be to begin work in earnest on my first project, so that's a lot of progress in picking up this difficult material in a very short, if grueling and painful, time.

I think whenever we devote our minds to some organized study of something, we glean from that a sense of the underlying structure or system of whatever we are studying. We force a certain logic into our thinking, and it helps us see the logic in other things, too. Anytime I study anything complex, in a serious and protracted effort, I always feel more "logical" myself afterward. The effect is only temporary, but it is very interesting to experience.

I have to ask myself whether the short-term benefit of all this hard work is worth the pain incurred. I won't know for sure until I write my first Java program. I also won't know for sure until I return to writing, and see whether I think I'm thinking more logically in some sense, able to see the complex system which is a novel, its many interrelated parts interwoven and, well, interrelated, with some greater depth of understanding due to the imposition of another system of logic. Is there a carry-thru? I think there is.

For a long time people said if you study Latin you will learn to think more clearly, or be more smarter, or speak English better, or whatever. I think that is true, even if it isn't. My other significant creative project at this time is learning Ancient Greek. I chose Attic Greek, the language of the Classical era in Athens, as opposed to Homeric Greek, which predates it, or Koine Greek, which follows it. I have a terrific book to study from and I'm enjoying immensely the exposure to this tangible piece of the reality of that long-ago world. If a study of systems is of any benefit to the mind, then learning both Ancient Greek and Java programming at the same time ought to qualify me for a discount on my next purchase of a scientific calculator, at the very least (I have never purchased a scientific calculator because I am not very scientific, but with my brain bulging with organized thoughts, I might become more scientific in the future).

All of which leads me back to the brain-related impact of this logical effort. Since I am so into logic right now, my creative side is feeling, well, rather neglected. The whole "arts and humanities" side of me is reeling from disuse. Just the other day the creative part of me threatened to sue the logical side of me for wanton neglect. It's not something I take lightly, that part of me that cares. The other part, the reckless, adventurous side, refuses to worry about it and urges me to carry on with wild abandon, learning all I can about loops and class declarations and public access, about declensions and verb stems and theme vowels, about GUI's and passing methods and operands, not to mention the dual, the aorist or the vocative.

That tiny portion of me that is left in between this struggle wishes with utmost sincerity that my brain would stop hurting, that my foray into logic would wind gracefully to an end, and my heart would be allowed to sing again as I merrily produce the sort of emotion-laden fiction that, well, makes my heart sing.

And all this because I'm getting too close to a finished product. Yes, I think I got into these projects as a way of distracting myself because I don't feel ready to actually finish a novel yet, as silly as that sounds. I have to learn to step out of the way and let the part of me that wants to be a writer pass through and become that writer.

int confidence = 10;
int apprehension = 100;
int diversion = 0;
boolean ready = false;
if (confidence < apprehension) {
confidence = diversion;
if (confidence >= apprehension) {
ready = true;

Wishing us a peaceful Easter in all parts of the world,


1 comment:

dayya said...

It's been a long time dream of mine to study Latin--not only for the sheer pleasure of knowing it but also for the solid foundation it provides to learning other languages plus there's that logical thinking boost! Good luck with all your work. Attic Greek! Wow! d:)