Thursday, November 26, 2009

The First Step of the Thousand Mile Journey

What I know about Don Quixote from my personal experience is limited. I never thought much about this book, and certainly never knew it was the watershed work that was the foundation of the literary genre known as “the novel.” I knew that it involved a madman chasing windmills, but I have no concept of how that is incorporated into the plot of the book.

After reading the introduction I am thoroughly irritated because of the scholar’s insistence on spoiling the plot in the second paragraph. Yes, it is a literary masterpiece, and yes, I am reading it as an educational pursuit, but I’d still like to enjoy the book as a plot unfolding! Nevertheless the introduction laid out some important background knowledge about Cervante’s life and personal pursuits, as well as how the tale of Don Quixote de la Mancha is told.

Ch. 1 – Tells how Don Quixote went mad by becoming so enmeshed in stories of chivalry and thereby decided to become a knight-errant.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Well Educated Mind, A Journey's First Step

Here I begin my survey of human history from my human perspective.  I have undertaken the reading of The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer because I want to learn the art of self-education, and not remain stagnant.  I also truly desire to model this for my chilren, that no one may take them captive through deceptive practices and doctrines.  I believe I must first articulate the reasons why I care to do this, because in so doing I may remind myself as to why I undertook this quest in the first place.  I am not what you might call a voracious reader.  I have a ravenous appetite, but continually strive against my lack of self-discipline and sometimes practical issues such as the physical exhaustion that comes from raising and homeschooling two children. 

I have concluded, then, that “slow and steady wins the race.”  I have throughout my life believed that anything done must be done with all gusto and fervor, and when that intensity cannot be sustained, then I must have failed to have the necessary passion to complete the project well.  Failure.  So here I begin to shed this erroneous belief and embark upon the journey which will likely be long and arduous and feel more like failures than successes, but I will fill my mind with valuable things, even though it will take me a lifetime. 

I should note that coinciding with this project I have also undertaken to study God’s perspective on human history and am reading the Bible through chronologically.  (Today I finished the book of Exodus.)  I am keeping a hand-written journal beside me as I read, since I prefer the intimacy of that medium for study of spiritual matters.  Also, I want to avoid the computer’s interference with my thoughts of God, as I am so easily distracted by, well, computer-y things.  This too, is a matter of self-discipline.

Bauer (SWB) says, “Sustained serious reading is at the center of the self-education project…Reading alone allows us to reach out beyond the restrictions of time and space, to take part in what Mortimer Adler has called the “Great Conversation” of ideas that began in ancient times and has continued unbroken to the present.  Reading makes us part of the Great Conversation, no matter where and when we pursue it.”

And so I begin.  I will keep a journal (in blog format) in keeping with SWB’s recommendations, and will probably make personal adjustments as I go.  I may or may not stick exclusively to her list, but at least at the outset I will keep her structure, so as to establish the discipline and get on track.