1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Read The Road Less Traveled.
4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else. Read Stumbling on Happiness.
11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.
21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards people who get things done.
24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burns you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. May be not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.
28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.
Ask, “What Would the User Do?” (You Are Not the User)2015-04-18 08:17:45Ask, “What Would the User Do?” (You Are Not the User)Giles ColborneWE ALL TEND TO ASSUME THAT OTHER PEOPLE THiNK LiKE US. But they don’t. Psychologists call this the false consensus bias. When ...
Ask, “What Would the User Do?” (You Are Not the User)
WE ALL TEND TO ASSUME THAT OTHER PEOPLE THiNK LiKE US. But they don’t. Psychologists call this the false consensus bias. When people think or act differently from us, we’re quite likely to label them (subconsciously) as defec- tive in some way.
This bias explains why programmers have such a hard time putting themselves in the users’ position. Users don’t think like programmers. For a start, they spend much less time using computers. They neither know nor care how a computer works. This means they can’t draw on any of the battery of problem-solving techniques so familiar to programmers. They don’t recognize the patterns and cues programmers use to work with, through, and around an interface.
The best way to find out how a user thinks is to watch one. Ask a user to complete a task using a similar piece of software to what you’re developing. Make sure the task is a real one: “Add up a column of numbers” is OK; “Cal- culate your expenses for the last month” is better. Avoid tasks that are too spe- cific, such as “Can you select these spreadsheet cells and enter a SUM formula below?”—there’s a big clue in that question. Get the user to talk through his or her progress. Don’t interrupt. Don’t try to help. Keep asking yourself, “Why is he doing that?” and “Why is she not doing that?”
The first thing you’ll notice is that users do a core of things similarly. They try to complete tasks in the same order—and they make the same mistakes in the same places. You should design around that core behavior. This is different from design meetings, where people tend to listen when someone says, “What if the user wants to…?” This leads to elaborate features and confusion over what users want. Watching users eliminates this confusion.
￼￼6 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼You’ll see users getting stuck. When you get stuck, you look around. When users get stuck, they narrow their focus. It becomes harder for them to see solutions elsewhere on the screen. It’s one reason why help text is a poor solu- tion to poor user interface design. If you must have instructions or help text, make sure to locate it right next to your problem areas. A user’s narrow focus of attention is why tool tips are more useful than help menus.
Users tend to muddle through. They’ll find a way that works and stick with it, no matter how convoluted. It’s better to provide one really obvious way of doing things than two or three shortcuts.
You’ll also find that there’s a gap between what users say they want and what they actually do. That’s worrying, as the normal way of gathering user require- ments is to ask them. It’s why the best way to capture requirements is to watch users. Spending an hour watching users is more informative than spending a day guessing what they want.
what is big data?2015-08-26 18:51:20link: http://opensource.com/resources/big-dataBig data: everyone seems to be talking about it, but what is big data really? How is it changing the way researchers at companies, non-profits, ...
Big data: everyone seems to be talking about it, but what is big data really? How is it changing the way researchers at companies, non-profits, governments, institutions, and other organizations are learning about the world around them? Where is this data coming from, how is it being processed, and how are the results being used? And why is open source so important to answering these questions?
In this short primer, learn all about big data and what it means for the changing world we live in.
What is big data?
There is no hard and fast rule about exactly what size a database needs to be in order for the data inside of it to be considered “big.” Instead, what typically defines big data is the need for new techniques and tools in order to be able to process it. In order to use big data, you need programs which span multiple physical and/or virtual machines working together in concert in order to process all of the data in a reasonable span of time.
Getting programs on multiple machines to work together in an efficient way, so that each program knows which components of the data to process, and then being able to put the results from all of the machines together to make sense of a large pool of data takes special programming techniques. Since it is typically much faster for programs to access data stored locally instead of over a network, the distribution of data across a cluster and how those machines are networked together are also important considerations which must be made when thinking about big data problems.
What kind of datasets are considered big data?
The uses of big data are almost as varied as they are large. Prominent examples you’re probably already familiar with including social media network analyzing their members’ data to learn more about them and connect them with content and advertising relevant to their interests, or search engines looking at the relationship between queries and results to give better answers to users’ questions.
But the potential uses go much further! Two of the largest sources of data in large quantities are transactional data, including everything from stock prices to bank data to individual merchants’ purchase histories; and sensor data, much of it coming from what is commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). This sensor data might be anything from measurements taken from robots on the manufacturing line of an auto maker, to location data on a cell phone network, to instantaneous electrical usage in homes and businesses, to passenger boarding information taken on a transit system.
By analyzing this data, organizations are able to learn trends about the data they are measuring, as well as the people generating this data. The hope for this big data analysis are to provide more customized service and increased efficiencies in whatever industry the data is collected from.
How is big data analyzed?
One of the best known methods for turning raw data into useful information is by what is known as MapReduce. MapReduce is a method for taking a large data set and performing computations on it across multiple computers, in parallel. It serves as a model for how program, and is often used to refer to the actual implementation of this model.
In essence, MapReduce consists of two parts. The Map function does sorting and filtering, taking data and placing it inside of categories so that it can be analyzed. The Reduce function provides a summary of this data by combining it all together. While largely credited to research which took place at Google, MapReduce is now a generic term and refers to a general model used by many technologies.
What tools are used to analyze big data?
Perhaps the most influential and established tool for analyzing big data is known as Apache Hadoop. Apache Hadoop is a framework for storing and processing data in a large scale, and it is completely open source. Hadoop can run on commodity hardware, making it easy to use with an existing data center, or even to conduct analysis in the cloud. Hadoop is broken into four main parts:
- The Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), which is a distributed
file system designed for very high aggregate bandwidth;
- YARN, a platform for managing Hadoop’s resources and scheduling
programs which will run on the Hadoop infrastructure;
- MapReduce, as described above, a model for doing big data processing;
- And a common set of libraries for other modules to use.
To learn more about Hadoop, see our Introduction to Apache Hadoop for big data.
Other tools are out ther too. One which has been receiving a lot of attention recently is Apache Spark. The main selling point of Spark is that it stoes much of the data for processing in memory, as opposed to on disk, which for certain kinds of analysis can be much faster. Depending on the operation, analysts may see results a hundred times faster or more. Spark can use the Hadoop Distributed File System, but it is also capable of working with other data stores, like Apache Cassandra or OpenStack Swift. It’s also fairly easy to run Spark on a single local machine, making testing and development easier.
For more on Apache Spark, see our collection of articles on the topic.
Of course, these aren’t the only two tools out there. There are countless open source solutions for working with big data, many of them specialized to provide optimal features and performance for a specific niche or for specific hardware configurations. And as big data continues to grow in size and importance, the list of open source tools for working with it will certainly continue to grow alongside.
- The Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), which is a distributed
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.2014-05-29 22:11:41Here are some ideas to get you started: 1. Stop spending time with the wrong people... – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in t
Here are some ideas to get you started:
现代大学英语精读第二版（第五册）学习笔记（原文及全文翻译）——1 - Who Are you and what are you doing...2021-11-10 16:24:12Unit 1 - Who Are you and what are you doing here? Who Are you and what are you doing here? Mark Edmundson Welcome and congratulations: Getting to the first day of college is a major achievement. ...
Who Are you and what are you doing here?
Welcome and congratulations: Getting to the first day of college is a major achievement. You're to be commended, and not just you, but the parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts who helped get you here.
It's been said that raising a child effectively takes a village: Well, as you may have noticed, our American village is not in very good shape. We've got guns, drugs, two wars, fanatical religions, a slime-based popular culture, and some politicians who—a little restraint here—aren't what they might be. To merely survive in this American village and to win a place in the entering class has taken a lot of grit on your part. So, yes, congratulations to all.
You now may think that you've about got it made. Amidst the impressive college buildings, in company with a high-powered faculty, surrounded by the best of your generation, all you need is to keep doing what you've done before: Work hard, get good grades, listen to your teachers, get along with the people around you, and you'll emerge in four years as an educated young man or woman. Ready for life.
Do not believe it. It is not true. If you want to get a real education in America you're going to have to fight—and I don't mean just fight against the drugs and the violence and against the slime-based culture that is still going to surround you. I mean something a little more disturbing. To get an education, you're probably going to have to fight against the institution that you find yourself in—no matter how prestigious it may be. (In fact, the more prestigious the school, the more you'll probably have to push.) You can get a terrific education in America now, there are astonishing opportunities at almost every college, but the education will not be presented to you wrapped and bowed. To get it, you'll need to struggle and strive, to be strong, and occasionally even to piss off some admirable people.
I came to college with few resources, but one of them was an understanding, however crude, of how I might use my opportunities there. This I began to develop because of my father, who had never been to college, in fact, he'd barely gotten out of high school. One night after dinner, he and I were sitting in our kitchen at 58 Clewley Road in Medford, Massachusetts, hatching plans about the rest of my life. I was about to go off to college, a feat no one in my family had accomplished in living memory. "I think I might want to be prelaw," I told my father. I had no idea what being prelaw was. My father compressed his brow and blew twin streams of smoke, dragonlike, from his magnificent nose. "Do you want to be a lawyer?" he asked. My father had some experience with lawyers, and with policemen, too; he was not well-disposed toward either. "I'm not really sure,"I told him, "but lawyers make pretty good money, right?"
My father detonated. (That was not uncommon. My father detonated a lot.) He told me that I was going to go to college only once, and that while I was there I had better study what I wanted. He said that when rich kids went to school, they majored in the subjects that interested them, and that my younger brother Philip and I were as good as any rich kids. (We were rich kids minus the money.) Wasn't I interested in literature? I confessed that I was. Then I had better study literature, unless I had inside information to the effect that reincarnation wasn't just hype, and I'd be able to attend college thirty or forty times. If I had such info, prelaw would be fine. Otherwise I better get to work and pick out some English classes from the course catalogue.
What my father told me that evening was true in itself, and it also contains the germ of an idea about what a university education should be. But apparently almost everyone else—students, teachers, and trustees and parents—sees the matter much differently. They have it wrong.
Education has one salient enemy in present-day America, and that enemy is education—university education in particular. To almost everyone, university education is a means to an end. For students, that end is a good job. Students want the credentials that will help them get ahead. They want the certificate that will give them access to Wall Street, or entrance into law or medical or business school. And how can we blame them? America values power and money, big players with big bucks. When we raise our children, we tell them in multiple ways that what we want most for them is success—material success. To be poor in America is to be a failure—it's to be without decent health care, without basic necessities, often without dignity. Then there are those backbreaking student loans—people leave school as servants, indentured to pay massive bills, so that first job better be a good one. Students come to college with the goal of a diploma in mind—what happens in between, especially in classrooms, is often of no deep and determining interest to them.
In college, life is elsewhere. Life is at parties, at clubs, in music, with friends, in sports. Life is what celebrities have. The idea that the courses you take should be the primary objective of going to college is tacitly considered absurd. In terms of their work, students live in the future and not the present; they live with their prospects for success. If universities stopped issuing credentials, half of the clients would be gone by tomorrow morning, with the remainder following fast behind.
The faculty, too, is often absent: Their real lives are also elsewhere. Like most of their students, they aim to get on. The work they are compelled to do to advance—get tenure, promotion, raises, outside offers—is, broadly speaking, scholarly work. No matter what anyone says this work has precious little to do with the fundamentals of teaching. The proof is that virtually no undergraduate students can read and understand their professors' scholarly publications. The public senses this disparity and so thinks of the professors' work as being silly or beside the point. Some of it is. But the public also senses that because professors don't pay full-bore attention to teaching they don't have to work very hard, they've created a massive feather bed for themselves and called it a university.
This is radically false. Ambitious professors, the ones who, like their students, want to get ahead in America, work furiously. Scholarship, even if pretentious and almost unreadable, is nonetheless labor-intensive. One can slave for a year or two on a single article for publication in this or that refereed journal. These essays are honest: Their footnotes reflect real reading, real assimilation, and real dedication. Shoddy work—in which the author cheats, cuts corners, copies from others—is quickly detected. The people who do this work have highly developed intellectual powers, and they push themselves hard to reach a certain standard: That the results have almost no practical relevance to the students, the public, or even, frequently, to other scholars is a central element in the tragicomedy that is often academia.
The students and the professors have made a deal: The students and the professors have made a deal: The students write their abstract, over-intellectualized essays; the professors grade the students for their capacity to be abstract and over-intellectual, and often genuinely smart. For their essays can be brilliant, in a chilly way; they can also be clipped off the Internet, and often are. Whatever the case, no one wants to invest too much in them—for life is elsewhere. The professor saves his energies for the profession, while the student saves his for friends, social life, volunteer work, making connections, and getting in position to clasp hands on the true grail, the first job.
No one in this picture is evil; no one is criminally irresponsible. It's just that smart people are prone to look into matters to see how they might go about buttering their toast. Then they butter their toast.
As for the administrators, their relation to the students often seems based not on love but fear. Administrators fear bad publicity, scandal, and dissatisfaction on the part of their customers. More than anything else, though, they fear lawsuits. Throwing a student out of college, for this or that piece of bad behavior, is very difficult, almost impossible. The student will sue your eyes out. One kid I knew (and rather liked) threatened on his blog to mince his dear and esteemed professor (me) with a samurai sword for the crime of having taught a boring class. (The class was a little boring—I had a damned cold—but the punishment seemed a bit severe.) The dean of students laughed lightly when I suggested that this behavior might be grounds for sending the student on a brief vacation. I was, you might say, discomfited, and showed up to class for a while with my cellphone jiggered to dial 911 with one touch.
You'll find that cheating is common as well. As far as I can discern, the student ethos goes like this: If the professor is so lazy that he gives the same test every year, it's okay to go ahead and take advantage. The Internet is amok with services selling term papers and those services exist, capitalism being what it is, because people purchase the papers—lots of them. Fraternity files bulge with old tests from a variety of courses.
One of the reasons professors sometimes look the other way when they sense cheating is that it sends them into a world of sorrow. A friend of mine had the temerity to detect cheating on the part of a kid who was the nephew of a well-placed official in an Arab government complexly aligned with the U.S. Black limousines pulled up in front of his office and disgorged decorously suited negotiators. Did my pal fold? Nope, he's not the type. But he did not enjoy the process.
What colleges generally want are well-rounded students, civic leaders, people who know what the system demands, how to keep matters light, not push too hard for an education or anything else; people who get their credentials and leave the professors alone to do their brilliant work, so they may rise and enhance the rankings of the university.
In a culture where the major and determining values are monetary, what else could you do? How else would you live if not by getting all you can, succeeding all you can, making all you can?
The idea that a university education really should have no substantial content, should not be about what John Keats was disposed to call Soul-making, is one that you might think professors and university presidents would be discreet about. Not so. This view informed an address that Richard Brodhead gave to the senior class at Yale before he departed to become president of Duke. Brodhead, an impressive, articulate man, seems to take as his educational touchstone the Duke of Wellington's precept that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. Brodhead suggests that the content of the courses isn't really what matters. In five years (or five months, or minutes), the student is likely to have forgotten how to do the problem sets and will only hazily recollect what happens in the ninth book of Paradise Lost. The legacy of their college years will be a legacy of difficulties overcome. When they face equally arduous tasks later in life, students will tap their old resources of determination, and they'll win.
All right, there's nothing wrong with this as far as it goes—after all, the student who writes a brilliant forty-page thesis in a hard week has learned more than a little about her inner resources. Maybe it will give her needed confidence in the future. But doesn't the content of the courses matter at all?
On the evidence of this talk, no. Trying to figure out whether the stuff you're reading is true or false and being open to having your life changed is a fraught, controversial activity. Doing so requires energy from the professors. This kind of perspective-altering teaching and learning can cause the things which administrators fear above all else: trouble, arguments, bad press, etc.
So, if you want an education, the odds aren't with you: The professors are off doing what they call their own work; the other students, who've doped out the way the place runs, are busy leaving the professors alone and getting themselves in position for bright and shining futures; the student-services people are trying to keep everyone content, offering plenty of entertainment and building another state-of-the-art workout facility every few months. The development office is already scanning you for future donations. The primary function of Yale University, it's recently been said, is to create prosperous alumni so as to enrich Yale University.
So why make trouble? Why not just go along? Let the profs roam free in the realms of pure thought, let yourselves party in the realms of impure pleasure, and let the student-services gang assert fewer prohibitions and newer delights for you. You'll get a good job, you'll have plenty of friends, you'll have a driveway of your own.
You'll also, if my father and I are right, be truly and righteously screwed. The reason for this is simple. The quest at the center of a liberal-arts education is not a luxury quest; it's a necessity quest. If you do not undertake it, you risk leading a life of desperation. For you risk trying to be someone other than who you are, which, in the long run, is killing.
By the time you come to college, you will have been told who you are numberless times. Your parents and friends, your teachers, your counselors, your priests and rabbis and ministers and imams have all had their say. They've let you know how they size you up, and they've let you know what they think you should value. They've given you a sharp and protracted taste of what they feel is good and bad, right and wrong. Much is on their side. They have confronted you with scriptures—holy books that have given people what they feel to be wisdom for thousands of years. They've given you family traditions—you've learned the ways of your tribe and your community.
And that's not so bad. Embedded in all of the major religions are profound truths. Schopenhauer, who despised belief in transcendent things, nonetheless thought Christianity to be of inexpressible worth. He couldn't believe in the divinity of Jesus, or in the afterlife, but to Schopenhauer, a religion that had as its central emblem the figure of a man being tortured on a cross couldn't be entirely misleading.
One does not need to be a Schopenhauer to understand the use of religion, even if one does not believe in an otherworldly god. And all of those teachers and counselors and friends—and the uncles and aunts, the fathers and mothers with their hopes for your fulfillment—or their fulfillment in you—should not necessarily be cast aside or ignored. Families have their wisdom.
The major conservative thinkers have always been very serious about what goes by the name of common sense. Edmund Burke saw common sense as a loosely made, but often profound, collective work in which humanity has deposited its hard-earned wisdom—the precipitate of joy and tears—over time. You have been raised in proximity to common sense, if you've been raised at all, and common sense is something to respect, though not quite—peace unto the formidable Burke—to revere.
You may be all that the good people who raised you say you are; you may want all they have shown you is worth wanting; you may be someone who is truly your father's son or your mother's daughter. But then again, you may not be.
For the power that is in you, as Emerson suggested, may be new in nature. You may not be the person that your parents take you to be. And—this thought is both more exciting and more dangerous—you may not be the person that you take yourself to be, either. You may not have read yourself right, and college is the place where you can find out whether you have or not. The reason to read Blake and Dickinson and Freud and Dickens is not to become more cultivated, or more articulate, or to be someone who, at a cocktail party, is never embarrassed (or who can embarrass others). The best reason to read them is to see if they may know you better than you know yourself. You may find your own suppressed and rejected thoughts flowing back to you with an "alienated majesty." Reading the great writers, you may have the experience that Longinus associated with the sublime: You feel that you have actually created the text yourself. For somehow your predecessors are more yourself than you are.
This was my own experience reading the two writers who have influenced me the most, Sigmund Freud and Ralph Waldo Emerson. They gave words to thoughts and feelings that I had never been able to render myself. They shone a light onto the world and what they saw, suddenly I saw, too. From Emerson I learned to trust my own thoughts, to trust them even when every voice seems to be on the other side. I need the wherewithal, as Emerson did, to say what's on my mind and to take the inevitable hits. Much more I learned from the sage—about character, about loss, about joy, about writing and its secret sources, but Emerson most centrally preaches the gospel of self-reliance and that is what I have tried most to take from him. I continue to hold in mind one of Emerson's most memorable passages: "Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs."
Emerson's greatness lies not only in showing you how powerful names and customs can be, but also in demonstrating how exhilarating it is to buck them. When he came to Harvard to talk about religion, he shocked the professors and students by challenging the divinity of Jesus and the truth of his miracles. He wasn't invited back for decades.
From Freud I found a great deal to ponder as well. Freud was a speculative essayist and interpreter of the human condition. He challenges nearly every significant human ideal. He goes after religion. He says that it comes down to the longing for the father. He goes after love. He calls it "the overestimation of the erotic object." He attacks our desire for charismatic popular leaders. We're drawn to them because we hunger for absolute authority. He declares that dreams don't predict the future. They're disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes.
Freud has something challenging and provoking to say about virtually every human aspiration. I learned that if I wanted to affirm any consequential ideal, I had to talk my way past Freud. He was—and is—a perpetual challenge and goad.
The battle is to make such writers one’s own, to winnow them out and to find their essential truths. We need to see where they fall short and where they exceed the mark, and then to develop them a little, as the ideas themselves, one comes to see, actually developed others. In reading, I continue to look for one thing—to be influenced, to learn something new, to be thrown off my course and onto another, better way.
Right now, if you’re going to get a real education, you may have to be aggressive and assertive.
Your professors will give you some fine books to read, and they’ll probably help you understand them. What they won’t do, for reasons that perplex me, is to ask you if the books contain truths you could live your lives by. That will be up to you. You must put the question to yourself.
Occasionally—for you will need some help in fleshing out the answers—you may have to prod your professors to see if they take the text at hand to be true. And you will have to be tough if the professor mocks you for uttering a sincere question instead of keeping matters easy for all concerned by staying detached and analytical. (Detached analysis has a place—but, in the end, you've got to speak from the heart and pose the question of truth.) You'll be the one who pesters your teachers. You'll ask your history teacher about whether there is a design to our history, whether we're progressing or declining, or whether, in the words of a fine recent play, The History Boys, history's "just one fuckin' thing after another."
The whole business is scary, of course. What if you arrive at college devoted to premed, sure that nothing will make you and your family happier than a life as a physician, only to discover that elementary school teaching is where your heart is?
You might learn that you're not meant to be a doctor at all. Of course, given your intellect and discipline, you can still probably be one. And society will help you. Society has a cornucopia of resources to encourage you in doing what society needs done but that you don't much like doing and are not cut out to do.
Education is about finding out what form of work for you is close to being play—work you do so easily that it restores you as you go. Randall Jarrell once said that if he were a rich man, he would pay money to teach poetry to students. (I would, too, for what it's worth.) In saying that, he (like my father) hinted in the direction of a profound and true theory of learning.
adj. 卓越的；超常的；出类拔萃的 n. 卓越的人
n. 刺棒，激励物，刺激物 v. 用刺棒驱赶，激励，刺激
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