Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Note-Taking Concerns, *The Logical Leap*, and Study Advancement

How to most effectively take notes is still a subject of concern to me. Aside from making sure I practice a format most effective for learning, there's also the issue of adapting a format that doesn't interfere with the flow of concentration. If you were to try and take notes during a gripping fiction novel, for instance, breaking from the reading constantly in order to write could interfere with the flow of the story. I think the best solution is to alter my note-taking habits in accordance to what the nature of the book is.

To be clear, I mean changing up the intervals and format of my note-taking based on what type of reading I'm doing. For a fiction novel it might be best to do a summary of my thoughts after reaching the end of a section or chapter, but for a non-fiction book it might be best to take notes during the reading. I'm quite confident in the format I have laid out, but not in its impact on my concentration.

I think what I'll try out first for non-fiction is the method I used for Leonard Peikoff's book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand: read the chapter or section purely first and then take notes during the second reading. I also did a third rereading in order to construct homework assignments, but I question the practicality of that, though it is a worthwhile consideration. For fiction, on the other hand, I'll do thought summaries at the end of the section or chapter, and at the end will try my hand at book reviews, perhaps write in conjunction a long essay summarizing the book's impact on my thinking. The matter of note-taking may clarify itself through practice, after seeing what works and what doesn't. You'll always be let known of my efforts.

Speaking of efforts, I have finished reading Infidel and The Vegetarian Myth, and am working on consequent book reviews and figuring out what's next in my study queue. I don't have much confidence in the quality of the book reviews I can create, but I'll exert myself anyhow and let you judge for yourself. My reason for doing so harks back to that thread I mentioned about the artist who posted every single piece of art he created to a public forum, good and bad, and let the observers watch him advance in competence. After all:

It is not the critic who counts, nor the person who points out how the strong person stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is actually marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows great enthusiasm and great devotions, whose life is spent in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and at worst, if failure wins out, it at least wins with greatness, so that this person's place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.— Theodore Roosevelt
And so I'll shall not be embarrassed by any struggling.

(On a side-note, regarding the book reviews, for the sake of my motivation for writing I won't be talking about any works in progress from here on out. The only times I'll mention book reviews is if I have new thoughts on the process itself or on previous book reviews; nothing on that which has yet to be written or published.)

As for my next study subjects, I've mentioned that I'm going to shift my focus to the books I already own and have been neglecting due to my reading list problems. To help me keep those books in mind, I've stacked them on my coffee table. They are: Ayn Rand's Marginalia, Good Calories, Bad Calories, The Ominous Parallels, The Journals of Ayn Rand, Writing and Thinking, and CookWise. I've been particularly naughty with Writing and Thinking, as I'm more than halfway through that book -- reading, exercises, and all -- but abandoned it when my mental energy shifted towards the problem my project is geared towards. But a hundred or more so pages to go and it'll be finished.

At present, I plan on studying *Ayn Rand's Marginalia*, *Good Calories, Bad Calories*, and The Logical Leap. Marginalia will close off the Objectivism section on my reading list after it's finished, and Calories will close off Nutrition/Health. The reason why I want to study The Logical Leap even though I have a stack of books on my coffee table is because, as per my rules, I consider it of immediate importance. My central purpose in life is predominantly culinary, and within that territory I want to be a technical innovator, whether furthering food science or cooking technology. As such, I need to become intimate with science, and unfortunately enough I am far from acquainted due to a poor school education. I have other food science related texts on my list, but I consider this primary since it's a treatise on the fundamental epistemology of science itself.

Unfortunately it seems as if I don't have practical access to a copy in my library district. The only one I could find is not requestable, so I would have to drive way out to get it, which would cost me more than purchasing the book off the bat given the library's location. As such, I'm going to do some reading on David Harriman's other science articles to see if it's worth taking the leap to purchase the book upfront (natch). I think one of those articles was about Newton's life; I loved that one. Given the setback to my project I think I'll go ahead and renew my subscription to The Objective Standard, rather than letting it lapse as originally intended for budget purposes.

Aside from this, I still need to do a little bit of fleshing out of my curriculum, so that I may have a base I can endlessly add onto. Missing are fiction books and books on my technological interests. I'm not much of a fiction reader, so I'm in a bit of a conundrum as to what to look for -- perhaps I'll start with Victor Hugo -- and I think my technological interests will have to wait until after I get a more firm scientific understanding. At the very least, I think I could work on increasing my technological competence as a layman, though that is still questionable in its practicality given that my finances make it so I'm not much in contact with innovations, such as iPhones and laptops. More thinking is needed.

These are my short-term study goals at a glance. Now to pursue them. I'm still considering the subject of tracking my studying and practice progress, but I'm stuck on what to title such posts.

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