number three: start asking questions

 Now that we’ve gone a ways, hopefully, towards stilling the mind, and calming the body, we can start to develop some real thinking skills.

 There’s lots of ways to do this, and it’s character will vary from person to person, but the quickest and most powerfull way is to develop the faculty of questioning. Nothing muddles up your mind worse than unquestioned assumptions.

 So sit down, assuming you’ve mastered that part, and write down some questions. Start with 100.

  Yes, really. A hundred questions. It probably won’t take more than hour, if that. And if you do it well, you won’t have to repeat it for a few months at least. You’re not going to find any better cost/benefit ratio of energy expenditure than that in this game.

 It doesn’t matter what kind of questions they are. Part of the point is to define the contours of your curiosity. The first few will likely reflect your current obsessions. The next few, your deeper contemporary concerns. By the time you get to thirty or fourty, you’ll be digging pretty deep, and likely starting to repeat yourself. That’s fine.

 You may stall out at some point, and have the sobering realisation that you don’t feel like you have any more questions, which ought to be the most withering indictment of public school indoctrination possible, one would think.

 Press on, this too will pass. By the time you get to one hundred you will almost certainly be brushing up against your most profound concerns in some form.

 If your list still seems shockingly banal or trivial, feel free to go to two hundred or three hundred. I doubt that will be neccisary, but in some rare cases you could indeed be that frantic or mired in trivia. Ultimately, I think you will be suprised at what comes out, whatever it ends up being.

3 thoughts on “Evolution by the Numbers: Number Three

  1. I did this for a while, 100 questions a day for a month and a half or so. I must have been doing something different than what you’re thinking of because I didn’t see much of a benefit arising from it. The only thing that did happen toward the end was I was thinking more about how to find engineering solutions to things. Is trying to find the answer to the question part of this as well? (I just read number 7 in the series) Are you supposed to try to figure out the answer in that line of finishing a thought?

  2. well, I suppose the real shocker comes for people who couldn’t even imagine asking 100 questions once. let alone every day for a month.

    I imagine also, if you have some kind of in depth technical knowledge to focus your curiosity that might take the sting out of it, too.

    keep in mind these excercises are kind of tilted towards the hypothetcial neophyte couch potato.

  3. Hm, well one thing I found as I did it was that without any input like novels or dialogues with other people about things, my questions were sort of stuck in a triviality limbo. What I do now is if I read a book (even a chapter) or something (I just read VALIS again which helped this a lot) was try to ask questions about it. One thing this helps with is remembering what happened in the story and since I’m thinking about it again it gives a different perspective than the passive reader roll does.

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