East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Learning stuff

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I was talking with a friend, about one hour ago, about books. Yeah, I know, I know… I should go out more, but that’s what we book people talk about when we have a chat – books. We are both working on some new material (I’ll tell you one of these days) and we are both staying away from fiction right now, and reading non fiction.

And it turned out we’ve been learning new things recently, and we keep trying to learn more. And that’s seen as something unnatural by many – there’s this idea you go to school, learn what you need to learn… learn all you need to learn, and you’re set. Off to getting a job you go, a job you’ll do for the rest of your life, hating it every minute, until you retire or die, whatever comes first.

But I keep learning, and I keep looking for way to improve – and I’m not saying this to show how much better than anybody else I am. The main reason I am learning new stuff is because it’s part of my making a living in this shifting, no-guarantees environment I’m in. I’d love to have a steady job, one that allows me to park my brain from 9 to 5, and that when I get home allows me the security to sit back and read a book for leisure and nothing else.

But it’s never been like that, isn’t it?

One of the books I am reading now is called Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook, and it’s a book about communications in the social media jungle. I am reading it for three reasons:

  • it was a gift
  • it was suggested to me by a person I trust
  • I like the cover

I am generally of a mixed mind about social media and about books on social media, but there is this strange thing going – it’s not the story that you write that hooks the readers, it’s your social media imprint.
Or so they say.

The fact that I do not like it does not mean I shall go through the jungle like I was on a beach, wearing flip-flops and a straw hat. Learning the lay of the land, and the rules that govern the territory is always a good start – after that, knowing the rules, we can learn to bend them and twist them and make them our own.

And there’s this thing – being a book person I like reading, and I actually love the idea of learning new things. So it’s not bad, it’s not a sacrifice or anything like that.
So, I’m reading a book that talks about boxing and social media, and social media as boxing.

But it’s not the only book I am reading.
I have here a beautiful, beautiful book about coral reefs (another gift, I’ll write about it in a few days), and a book about the philosophy of trade and craft.
After that, I have decided I’ll re-read Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea, and will go through a nifty book about walking and health.
I’m keeping busy, until I’ll feel again like reading a novel.

Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane used to sing “Feed your head”.
I’m pretty sure she was referring to certain chemicals, but for us book people, books are usually enough.
And they are not illegal. Yet.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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