Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"the stolen incandescence of a thousand young minds"

From Theodore Gray's web site, Periodic Table.

At the end of one of those books, Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks describes the process of growing out of his youthful enthusiasm for chemistry as a painful feeling of loss. I know exactly what he's talking about.

And I also know that there are a lot of kids who never feel this sense of loss, because by the time they are teenagers, they have nothing left to lose. Whatever enthusiasm, creativity, and focus they started with has long since been driven out of them, destroyed by television, video games, horrible schools, horrible opportunities, and horrible role models. The bright flicker of our television screens is the stolen incandescence of a thousand young minds.

One of the first things to go is a sense of mastery. Television, even the supposedly good stuff, is full cues that this is something other people can do, not you. Beyond the ubiquitous "Don't try this at home kids!" there are the slick production values and the fancy props to hammer home the lesson that nothing you could possibly do at home is as interesting or as valid as what you see on TV.

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