Immersion, not Drowning

by capelesst

Ever have those days where everything feels familiar? Not comforting familiar, like “oh that smell reminds me of home”, but over-familiar, like “oh, that again”.

We live generalist lives, handheld portals to our aggregated knowledge enabling real-time fluency in whatever we want. But sooner or later, progress demands some specialisation. I’m not talking a Masters in Pug Husbandry, but some kind of limited duration immersion in something we want to take seriously. Which of course means something in the context of which we want to be taken seriously.

And this notion of immersion has arisen, the new “cramming”, whereby for a time we hold our noses and dive, dive, into the depths of a topic or discipline. Later, the thinking goes, we’ll surface with new knowledge. Returning heroes bearing boons.

So our RSS feed numbers tick up, our subscriptions clog, we stockpile articles and books and online tutorials, immersing ourselves in the quest for canon completion. Except, of course, no canon is complete, or without bleed. And for the ravenous mind, the submerged intellect, every drop must be followed.

So on we plow through late nights & early mornings, scribbling insights and questions in the margins of our chosen field.  Connections flare, causalities blaze, then fade into the catalogs of earlier minds, and we begin to perceive the knowledge network we’ve plugged into, the mapped-ness of this soggy terrain. It’s disdain for new explorers.

Until it all begins to feel familiar. Until every thought seems a re-phrasing, the newest works mere workouts for adepts, conditioning for muscle memory long perfected. And our enthusiasm begins to wane.

We flag. The weight of all the fathoms we’ve descended presses in.

Immersion only works if you come up for air. Otherwise its drowning.