Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: the roving mind

Isaac Asimov: Robots and Space Travel

I finished reading “The Roving Mind” by Isaac Asimov over the weekend. 348 pages in 13.92 hours. But who’s counting?!

isaac asimov

The man invented the word “robots,” but he’d never used a computer. He knows that the word is only attributed to him, but he knows he heard it somewhere before. He used a typewriter and when told a newfangled word processor would at least speed up his writing, he scoffed. He wrote a book a month and so many essays. “Prolific” doesn’t begin to describe him.

I enjoyed reading some of these essays more than others. My favorites being the last few that he wrote about himself. I was encouraged to hear that he often wrote “off the cuff” and only went back to clean up some mistakes and maybe rearrange a bit. That’s typically my style as well. I’m not saying I’m a genius, but what I write is usually what I’m thinking as I think it. It may not be brilliant but it’s honest, real.

There was one bit about space exploration that I found inspiring. Imagine space colonies, people living in space, children growing up on a space station. They’d be the people that went on the long journeys into space, the ones that got on that light speed vehicle and headed into the vast unknown. They would be used to that life and not as likely to be unnerved by the confinement.

Also, reading Isaac Asimov describe how big the universe really is, not to mention our own dang solar system. Amazing.

I’m not big sci-fi fan. Hell, I’m not even a big science fan. I’d rather delve into relational human issues, spirituality and imagination, than ponder the secrets only meticulous science can unravel. But space travel is fascinating to me. The prospect of it. What’s out there? Who’s out there? I’m not concerned with how we get there or if there will be metals to mine or an atmosphere on that distant planet. What I want to know is, how we will talk to them. Will we even be able recognize a sentient lifeform from an entirely different galaxy?

It’s probably why I love Star Trek so much. The exploration of space. “This is a science vessel!” How would we even begin to communicate and interact with a species that developed completely outside our own system? How will they be different? How will they be similar? It boggles my mind.

The only drawback to this book for me was that, because it was written in 1983, it felt a little dated. Many of the things we thought were going to destroy the world in the next decade never came to fruition. Don’t get me wrong, some of them still could, eventually. But, like a lot of predictions and panics, we’re assuming that technology will remain the same when we look forward to a grim future. These days, with the rapid development of technology, anything can happen.

When I look to the future, I wonder what crazy new thing will have been invented and embraced that will change how my grandchildren live. I’m curious and optimistic, unless I’ve just been to the grocery store, and they’ve put my spaghetti sauce on top of my loaf of bread…again. Then I’m afraid that I am convinced there is no hope for us a species.

Are you a sci-fi fan? Do you read Isaac Asimov fiction? What’s your favorite?

Go back and read my first post, “The Roving Mind: New Read” to see where I came from.

Media B.S. and Scientific…ahh, who am I kidding?!

Two quotes about media b.s. and scientific challenges from the essay “The Role of the Heretic” in the chapter “Other Aberrations” in The Roving Mind by Isaac Asimov.

“Supply the public with something amusing, that sounds scholarly, and that supports something it wants to believe, and surely you need nothing more.”

Sounds familiar. This is what we get from today’s “news,” social media, and politicians. When you ask anyone where they are getting their data, or what study or finding they are paraphrasing, you are accused of either not having an “open mind” or being “anti-science.”

“I hope scientific orthodoxies never remain unchallenged. Science is in far greater danger from an absence of challenge than from the coming of any number of even absurd challenges. Science, unchallenged, can become arthritic and senile, whereas the most absurd challenge may help to stir the blood and tone the muscles of the body of science.”

Unchallenged scientific orthodoxies are the same as religions. They both only wish to keep their power and control the masses so that things continue the way they want them to.

And…that’s all I’ve got today. Not very inspiring, I know.

The trouble this morning is that I promised myself I’d write SOMETHING every day and then post SOMETHING, even if it’s not worth posting. Do you think that’s too much? I’m talking about an hours’ worth of work each day. I really don’t think that is too much to ask of myself. But here we are…struggling to keep up.

And what about tomorrow? One day a week I leave the house at 7am to drive down the hill and visit friends. I don’t have time to write before I go. No big deal, right? I mean, it’s only one day and I have a legitimate reason. But I’ll have another this weekend when we leave on our mini vacation for our anniversary. That’s two days, maybe three.

My initial solution was to write two posts today and schedule one to come out tomorrow morning, but then I woke up angry and tired from a bad dream and just couldn’t get into writing anything at all. I decided what I really needed to get my brain off the dream and into work mode was some breakfast and coffee. Then I started texting a friend about that stupid dream. My mother-in-law called and asked me to pick something up at the store for her later. Then I thought, “Screw this. I’ll read some more and then write while my son needs the livingroom silent for his class.”

I showered, started the laundry, chatted with a friend, ate more tasty things (still thinking about a tasty lunch), sat down to my computer, and decided I needed to clean up some photo files first…

Yeah. You see where this is going.

But here I am now. FINALLY. At the laptop. Sitting in my bed instead of my office because it’s not comfy at all. My husband is working at his desk on the other side of the room. Luckily, he’s not on the phone right now.

My head hurts. I need more coffee. How long is that kid going to be in class?! The laundry will be done soon. It’s hot again today. I’m starting to think summer won’t end this year. First Covid bullshit and now infinite summer.

All of this angst is because I had a bad dream, a few of them in a row actually. I woke up tired and cranky. What I need is a nap and there is no room to hide in today.

But that’s ok because I DID write SOMETHING, and I am going to post it. For posterity, of course. And I believe I’m hilarious, especially when I’m being pissy. Win!

Go back to my first post, “The Roving Mind: New Read” to read more about this book.

Chaos & Peace: The Roving Mind #1

The first of a few posts on The Roving Mind. There’s a lot in this book. Its essays go just about everywhere and I’m enjoying every page. Well, maybe not EVERY page. There are some moments that I think, “You know, Asimov, for a smart guy but you’re kinda being an ass.” Everyone can get that way about things they believe they know a lot about, things they have been well trained in, etc. We think, “Dammit, I’ve spent a lot of time in this subject. I know things. People should listen to me!” I get that way myself. Often. But then I remember chaos.

You remember chaos theory? “Life, uh, finds a way.” You know, Jurassic Park?

chaos

I know what I’m thinking isn’t exactly chaos theory, but it gets me in the direction I want to go.

Even though we think we know what’s best, we can’t know what’s best for every individual. Even if we did know what was best for someone else, we have their best interests at heart and we have a outside vantage point that they would benefit from seeing, we can’t force people to adopt our way of thinking. We’d be violating their very essence. Everyone is entitled to live their lives however they see fit, even if we can see their choices are doing them a disservice. It’s their life.

When Asimov gets all snarky about people who choose to believe in creationism or a flat earth, I wonder. What does it really matter? Why not simply leave people to their beliefs?

I didn’t realize it, but the title is so appropriate for this blog and my style of learning. “The Roving Mind” sums up my whole lifestyle really. You can’t tell me that a lack of focus is a disability! It’s been serving me well for 48 years and I’ll happily (hopefully) be humming along for at least another 40 at this rate.

In his introduction, right there on page one, I read, “…there is that phrase about doing ‘whatever it is I would do if I weren’t being prodded.’ Actually, I haven’t figured out what that might be. … The only thing I really want to do is to sit at a typewriter (or word-processor) and unreel my thoughts.”

My thoughts exactly, Mr. Asimov.

I’m recently retired. Yes, retired. Even though I have not had a job outside my home for the last 18 years, I have indeed been working. I have had responsibilities that prod me daily into doing things I would not be doing if I were alone with a situation that kept me fed and housed without effort. I’ve been a housewife and a homeschool (rather unschool) mom.

That last sentence proves I’ve been reading and watching too much “British” lately.

Now that I’m not hourly prodded by one child or another, no housework NEEDS to be done each day, and all my husband needs is something to microwave for lunch, I have found myself with a lot of time on my hands. “Get a job!” is the suggestion I hear from friends most. There are other things I could do: sew, knit, gardening, visit friends, volunteer. The list goes on and on. But what I really want to do is read and write.

And that is what I’ve been doing. There are times when I begin to get antsy and look for things to fill more of my time, but then I sit back and think. I have an amazing opportunity here. I can spend my days completely as I see fit. It’s like Star Trek. With an infinite source of energy, the whole community can spend it’s days pursuing whatever they like. I choose to spend mine using my own Roving Mind.

Maybe things will change. Chaos does assert itself. I’m sure some responsibilities will present themselves in the future, but for now I’ll be enjoying the peace, reading, meditating, practicing yoga, making my favorite things to eat from scratch, hiking, watching the birds, and then writing about it. Who knows where I’ll end up.

I laughed outloud when I read that last bit back to myself. I know a lot of people that would go completely crazy with the amount of quiet reflection that goes on around here lately. And here I am sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee, watching a bird pick through my plants, for over thirty minutes and calling it “adventure.” In the past I would not been able to enjoy that moment. I’d have felt like I was wasting precious time. Only lately have I changed my thinking. Time is only wasted when you let is rush by unnoticed.

What would you do with your time if you could spend it however you like? Do you think it would evolve over time if you gave yourself permission to pursue your own roving mind?

It turns out that I’ve written about chaos a few times before! See? Things come back around. Check out Violence and Chaos of the Natural World is What Grendel Represents and Social Anxiety and Chaos Theory.

The Roving Mind: A New Read

I started reading “The Roving Mind” by Isaac Asimov this morning, my first tentative step into read more of his non-fiction work.

The Roving Mind

After much tweaking of my mourning routine, I have finally caught the reins and started a more consistent writing schedule…again. And now I get to post about my latest book right as I start to read it, instead of after I finish like I have had to do the past month.

I enjoy writing these New Read posts because my initial impressions about a book are usually pretty different than my thoughts at the end. There was a reason that I picked up the book in the first place, (and, yes, I’ve promised to get better at remembering that reason). There is also a reason I’m picking the book off the TBR shelf today, which may be different than my reason for buying it.

What are my initial impressions of Isaac Asimov’s “The Roving Mind?” I started reading the Foreword, the Introduction, and the tributes from other science and sci-fi writers and teared up. I didn’t realize how much loved he was as a writer and a friend; it sounds like he was fascinating person. Then again, how could he not be? He’s written so much about science, non-fiction and fiction. I know him for his fiction. I’ve read Foundation, The Gods Themselves, and The Fantastic Voyage. I plan on reading more! So far, The Fantastic Voyage has been my favorite, but I think it’s mostly because the movie from the 60’s was so fun (and scary) for me when I was a kid. My husband has read more of his non-fiction. I have some of them on my bookshelf behind me right now.

I don’t consider myself much of a scientific thinker. I lean more on emotion and feeling, more concerned with getting along and making connections with people than thinking along the lines of repeatable experiments and data tables. When a scientist says something is true, I tend to lean more on “Can I trust that person?” than “Is his data provable?” But Asimov…he makes science approachable for people like me and I’m excited to start reading more of his work.

My edition of “The Roving Mind” is a collection of essays originally published in 1983 but republished in 1997 after his death in 1992. I bought it from Amazon, probably because I had the thought to read some of his non-fiction after finishing Foundation. It’s been sitting on my TBR shelf since 2013. I don’t think anything has sat there that long, but it’s science, it’s hard, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Three essays in and I’m wishing I had read it years ago. This is going to be fun!

Want to follow me through this book? Read more at the following links.

Chaos & Peace: The Roving Mind #1
Media B.S. and Scientific…ahh, who am I kidding?!
Isaac Asimov: Robots and Space Travel

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