Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Coffee shop question and books

Here I am in Starbucks on Sunday morning, Pike Place Roast Grande and an Apple Bran muffin to hand. One iPad and a keyboard. Fully equipped for blogging! 

I'm about to launch into a discussion of another book. But before I do, I thought I'd talk about why I have such extensive discussions about books. Why not interviews or stories or anecdotes? I know reading about books is harder going than entertaining little stories, which seem to be the basic formula for much non-fiction. And when the books I am discussing are about philosophy or economics it can be much harder going still. 

So I admit it: the personal book review section is  not prime entertainment. It's not front page revelation.  G tells me she likes the more personal stories about how we are living our lives together above all, which I like as well. But my aim so far is not to build an audience (which is still minimal) 

So why talk about all these ideas? Well, it's in the name of the blog. And the more fundamental answer is what you see depends on what you are looking for. I think much knowledge is just seeing the same things more clearly, and being able to see the things that matter. It is about education of perception. 

You have to know enough about an issue or area to understand what you're looking at. You have to read through some of the previous thinking and discussions to know what the essential questions are, and arrive at the questions which matter most to you. You have to map out the contours of the territory.  You have to watch out for fundamental mistakes, or old, tired refuted points of view.  You have to grapple with some counterarguments to know if what you think makes sense. 

And, to be honest, it all appeals to the intellectual side of me. I like reading new thought-provoking books and deciding what I make of them. I like concrete problems. But I am more thinker than journalistic by nature. 

Some blog about restaurants. Some blog about current politics. Some blog about celebrity gossip or episodes of Gossip Girl. Thinking about how the world is changing in larger perspective is my own passion, my own niche which I want to spend time doing on a Sunday morning. 

Unfortunately, the ability to add photos is temporarily down in both Blogger and the offline program I use, Blogsy, so I can't add change of pace images temporarily, which help break the intellectually more intense stuff. But hopefully that will come back soon. 

I started out with a coffee shop question back in July this year, written at the same Starbucks table I am sitting at now. And I feel I have made a lot of progress, at least to my own satisfaction and pleasure, in working towards some answers. 

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