Sunday, November 4, 2012

Knowledge Litter

Ever have one of those days where your brain functions only slightly above "imbecile" level?  Lately, I fear I've been abusing that privilege.

Mostly I've been demonstrating this through loss of prior knowledge.  For instance, in my past few Chinese lessons, I keep forgetting characters that I learned ages ago, or suddenly going blank on how to use a particular grammar pattern that I previously drilled myself on.  I find myself forgetting other knowledge that I should know well, too, like how many electoral votes there are total, or the US presidents in order (I memorized this years ago and used to be able to whip through them in 28 seconds), or major features of various ancient empires.  Yes, I realize that for most people those things might not be the most common of common knowledge, but when you take into consideration that I majored in history for both degrees, teach history, and have been researching history for fun since I was seven years old, you come to see just what a frightening load of information is dropping out of my head lately.  I have a mental image of my brain actually strewing facts and thoughts across the streets as I walk, leaving a path of knowledge litter behind me wherever I go.

Knowledge acquired less than a week ago is particularly vulnerable lately - it slips through my mind like water pouring over my hand.  This would be why I nearly threw The Arabian Nights across the room in frustration - the intricate web of story within a story within a story tied my beleaguered brain into a series of successive, dizzy knots.  It got to the point where I couldn't figure out where the plot had gone.  Only the fact that the book is in electronic form on my iPad saved it from hurtling through the air!  That's another thing - I seem to frustrate easier lately, too (and no, it has nothing to do with merely being female).

I think the two flus in succession is what did me in.  I feel like my body finally recovered, but forgot to tell my brain.  Here's hoping that the two finally agree to synchronize once again - China is littered enough without the contents of my brain falling out!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"