Monday, January 8, 2007

Reading Sign.

Donald Stokes wrote a wonderful guide to reading the living world as if it were a book. "Animal Tracking and Behavior" reconnects a half blinded modern denizen with skills that were once common.

You learn to make sense of subtle deer antler rubs on branches, evidence of porcupine lunches or the more striking bear claw marks on beech trees bears use to demonstrate tallness.

I've had hours of fun hiking around New England green spaces and the regions National Forests applying this learning.

Over time I came to conclude it is really an exercise in honing perception, in seeing that is applicable in nearly every facet of living skillfully.

For example, you land in a new city and wonder about job prospects or housing. Craigslist becomes a wealth of statistical data on both with the number totals posted at the top of main category fields such as "jobs" or "housing".

Having landed a job, you become alert to the nuances of inevitable office politics and begin to fathom the decision basis as well as the employers role in the broader economy sector it belongs to.

As you move toward added learning about the human condition and current affairs you read sign some more and gain a potential to see ahead of the curve and foresee outcomes.

The basic sign reading skill can be further enhanced by developing some capacity to evaluate likelihoods and statistical distribution.

Of course, it is essential to have an urge to seek truth, however dissonant, rather than merely seeking reinforcement of what you want to believe.

We now live in a time where our cognitive capacities are continuously disturbed by imposed media static primarily bent on selling us something.

It reduces our once great human capacities to the level of bored crib bound infants fascinated by the shiny Mylar mobile twisting in the breeze overhead.

An essential precondition to regaining this majestic capability would be to unplug the media drivel stream to the greatest extent practible and resume the far more satisfying and challenging trajectory of maturation and understanding, one of our odd species' primary strengths.