Educating Tim (Cont…)

As many of you would be well aware, I finished my Koch Associate Program/employment at Americans for Tax Reform last week. Rather that get another job, I am going to be spending the next two months working on business plans for that which I wish to establish at home, and, following that, I shall use every ounce of my charm, my wit, my brilliance, and my persuasive powers to convince people to give me lots of money, so I can run around and, well, be me. With the benefit of bit more thought into this “money” part of my life plan, but hey, c’est la vie. It’s going to be … interesting, to say the least.

In any event, as I do not exactly wish to spend my days writing business plans 24/7, it does give me an opportunity to continue work on the “Educating Tim” project. I assume most of you know of this project, launched about 2 years ago to self-educate myself to make up for the lack of learning anything at university, and the fact that I have very little to talk about at dinner parties.

One of the further advantages of completing this project here in DC is that I’ve been rather fortunate enough to have a number of friends considerable better educated and more knowledgably than I. It is a somewhat uncomfortable process to be in conversations with people consistently when half of what they say about is above your head, so this gives me the perfect incentive to work on changing that (see, this is about turning my weakness of insecure intellectual arrogance and making it into a positive!)

I’m seeking advice though as to what I should attempt to tackle next. As you all know, I’m a very big believer in the checklist theory of life in general, and that there is a list of things that every man needs to be at least passably knowledgeable about. The problem is that I’m not actually sure what is on the list. Obviously politics, law, theology, are checked off for me, so what next? I’m relatively content with how the reading of fiction part has gone, as well as the film part (how I never watched a Hitchcock before, I know not), and I thank all of you who were involved in assisting me with this. But where too next? History, both ancient and modern, I think I still have a passable knowledge in (excluding a massive gap in 18th and 19th century Britain I really need to address). So what should my priorities be?

I’ve chosen basic anthropology to start with, and then some more philosophy, but what else should be on the list? If you were to construct your own liberal education list and so forth. But also, if there are other random, strange, weird and wonderful things that might be rather niche, but you think I might find interesting. Because you always have to have a few niches to specialise in 🙂

The other thing to bear in mind is that I’ve found it rather useless to study things in a vacuum. Specifically, reading a book is no-where near as good as reading a book then talking about it. Hence, if you suggest something, be prepared for me to follow up with you on it. And, in fact, I would request that you demand I do so (workaround for my laziness again). Alternatively, if anyone wants to join me for any part of it, that too would be good.

See, this was the lesson I learnt from taking a course in philosophy through Macquarie Uni via Open University. I did the assignments, got a Distinction, and learnt nothing, because there was nothing actually holding me to it. So, this is where you all come in.

Anyway, make your suggestions, and then do hold me to them. Because having a great list is rather pointless if you don’t actually act upon it.

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12 Responses to “Educating Tim (Cont…)”

  1. B. P. M. Says:

    Definitely philosophy/logic and history if you haven’t done so (I’m particularly partial to late antiquity.) If you want to have a liberal arts education, you can’t without either of those.

    My own liberal arts program would be essentially what I study now (or have in some way in the past): politics, jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, economics, history (ancient, modern, religious, historiography), languages and some classic literature. Additional to that would be maths and maybe a touch of hard sciences.

    If you wanted something more modern, you’d be looking at cultural studies, literary theory, sociology, etc.

  2. TKB Says:

    -how to catch, clean, and gut a fish
    -how to ride a horse
    -how to dock a boat
    -how to open a beer bottle with a lighter
    -how to sight sing
    -how to get someone through a bad trip

    Oh, more reading?

    If you have not read much by any of the following, you ought: Kierkegaard, Bergson, Girard, Gabirol, Deleuze.

    Do you know much about painting or music theory? I always wish I knew more about the visual arts. The only painters I know anything about are Dali and Caravaggio (and Repin, I suppose).

  3. Jake the Muss Says:

    TKB has the right idea with the first part of his post. Knowing about anthropology won’t make you interesting it will make you Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

    …without the redeeming characteristics.

  4. Ben Says:

    Okay: How about a family tree competition with your history-loving mates? The object of the game is to see how many centuries you can go down (with primary sources, of course).

    Positives: Learn about you past (and therefore yourself), find out that you’re related to some incestuous royal families (or evil pirates with treasure chests), win brownie points from close relatives with your ready-to-print family tree, and the respect of genealogy-loving women everywhere.

    Negatives: All of the above.

  5. Ben Says:

    PS> The Craft of the Japanese Sword by Leon Kapp. Side question: Is the book you were looking at a few days ago?

  6. Glynn Says:

    Due to my background I would be amiss if I didn’t recommend maths and the sciences, while topics like physics can be very foreboding at first, unless you are interested in the more complex math I would focus on a qualitative understanding of the major breakthroughs and how they impacted on our view of the universe. The most important first step would be to understand the scientific method and the separation of science from non-science or pseudoscience.
    As well as this art & architecture are interesting topics as are there respective histories. Periods such as Classical antiquity, the Dark ages, the european revival, the renaissance and modern art hold enormous value for the intellect, just don’t look too deep into post modernism as it is a very annoying movement.

  7. Cathy Says:

    Speaking of this project – regarding your demands of two years ago, I am not a philosophy teacher. I can only list a bunch of people and texts that you should read. Go back to uni and monitor a couple of first year phil courses for the basics. Also, I’ll be only too pleased to give you my philosophy reading bricks from the last four years if you come and get them from my place in Canberra. And soon, please, I’m moving to Melbourne in two weeks and you never go there (as far as I’m aware).

    Postmodernism is highly underrated, largely because there is a voluminous quantity of shit that floats to the top of that discipline. Anything Jim George has to say on the subject will make you think twice about simply disregarding it. It DOES serve a purpose, it’s just that the approach is so completely different from the entire stream of cultural and intellectual inquiry up to this date that it can be difficult to comprehend, for those who are not willing to open to it. I used to hate Foucault. Now I do not hate Foucault quite so much. True story.

    Actually, there’s a book by Richard Tarnas called The Passion of the Western Mind which is, quite simply, the most informative book I’ve ever read.

    (PS: Geneology is awesome, but only when I do not have to a) take part in researching or b) be forced to listen to findings.)

  8. Ben P. Says:

    If your purpose is to expand your horizons, it seems like philosophy, history, anthropology, or other social sciences would be enjoyable, but more of the same along with politics, economics, etc.

    Now, mind you, I don’t suggest being bizarre for it’s own sake (no need to become the chameleon-eating man at the circus) but I would suggest something fresh.

    Top ideas:

    1. Learn to play the piano. Any instrument would do, and harder is better–I think the piano would suit you.

    2. Take on a hard science. A really hard one. Physics, for instance.

    3. Math. Math will always broaden your horizons–often painfully. Take a course in advanced calculus online, or some course that you don’t think you could possibly succeed at (just make sure you’ve got the pre-reqs).

    4. A speed-reading course. If you’re going to be doing history and philosophy, you might as well do it quickly and efficiently.

    5. Life on a farm. Nothing says “not well-rounded” like someone who knows everything about Locke, Mozart, Nietzsche, the Holy Roman Empire and Freud, but can’t bring himself to kill and clean his own chicken.

    6. Take up a silly TV series. Find one that you really like, and get into it enough that you can catch the references. Something quirky–with a good cult following–can be particularly fun. (Babylon 5, firefly, if you’re looking for sci-fi. But you get the idea.)

    7. Something hands-on, like cooking. Cooking would be good.

    Chances are good that you already have done some (most) of these. But they’re certainly the kinds of things that make for good dinner party fodder. More importantly, they can give some depth to a person. More importantly, they’re fun.

  9. Ben P. Says:

    By the way, your “educating Tim” mission is admirable. Kudos.

  10. Glynn Says:

    Love Ben, P’s idea of cooking, it is a very useful skill to have, and lots of fun. Work your way through a book on classical french cookery, Larousse Gastronomique comes to mind (it is very detailed and quite large) as does Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire. Both are invaluable references when it comes to cooking.

  11. Max Says:

    Learn how the make love to a woman

    (extra points for behind the knee play,
    and bottom lip biting)

    Mid 20th century USA essays/journalism
    Branching out from Norman Mailer, William F. Buckley, Gore Vidal

    The two are complementary

  12. Phil Says:

    As a classically trained chef I would have to recommend gaining a basic understanding of cookery, the taste of freshly prepared sole en papiotte with beurre blanc and buttered French beans is almost orgasmic and is incredibly simple. As other people (including my brother Glynn have commented, one of the best aces to start building your food knowledge are the haute cuisine bibles (not kidding, EVERY CHEF OWNS A COPY OF THEM, EVERY CHEF) the Larousse Gastronomiue and Escoffiers tome of cookery, as well I would recommend anything written by Careme as well as a little known beast called “the cooks book” the most important thing to remember a out cooking, is that you will at some point split an emulsion, bake a roast(they are very different things, baking and roasting, haha) or make a soufflé that doesn’t well, soufflé. Oh and wine goes with EVERYthing.

    Enjoy your education,
    Phil

    P.S: great blog BTW

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