I’m still catching up on things I read over the summer. In the Times on 21 August Libby Purvis wrote:
Early specialisation leads to a lack of what Melvyn Bragg once described to me as basic “grids”. He explained that his brain has a good literary and historical grid, so whenever he learns a new thing in such areas it has somewhere to fit in. So it sticks. A new scientific fact, though, may not stick because there’s no slot. I can identify with that problem. A properly educated person need not know everything, but needs both grids: fission and feelings, Electra and electrons, emperors and enzymes.
Brilliant. I know what Purvis is talking about. I’ve thought about it in the past, but never managed to express what I was thinking at all precisely. This concept of grids and slots is a good start at doing so. (Someone who describes a thing well, like this, makes it possible for others to tamp a thought down and build other thoughts on top of it.)
I find it determinist, though, to think you can’t do anything about it in adulthood. When I come back from visiting a place I haven’t been before (like the Ionian islands this summer), I find myself following articles about it in the paper, noticing references to it in books. Quite often it becomes an addition to my grid.
(Slot machines on board the ferry Finn Maid, sailing from Lübeck to Helsinki in summer 2015, reflected in its window)