Friday, December 17, 2010

An endless loop

Sometimes I go to seminars and talks for the sake of just going. I think many people do that too. Two ladies in front of me just told my current PI that they have no idea why they are here ("'cos our PI told us to come here"). My PI happens to be one of the speakers today at the Sacklers discussion. So today, I have a good reason for myself to attend this talk.

But in general, I (would like to) think the phenomenon is not something entirely new. Especially to students like myself, who is not yet well-versed in anything. I go wherever there is a talk or whoever instructed me to. Somehow, I thought I should have some form of autonomy in deciding where I should go. But autonomy must come with knowledge of where you want to go. That is my problem. Because I am such a fledgling, knowledge of that is an issue in itself. This brings us back to my endless loop of being instructed to go to seminars and talks by whoever and wherever. So to break out of that vicious cycle, I need to find something to settle on.. Which is a perpetual question in my head that I haven't been able to answer....

I feel bugged everytime I attend these seminars and talks and people seemed able to grasp some aspects of the talk and ask questions, seemingly pertinently (or not, since I couldn't understand fully what is going on anyway). I start to question if I am actually less intelligent than these people, or can such skill be developed that you could ask anything intelligible, anywhere, at anytime. 

To me, it just sounds absurd to know everything in this universe, to be able to ask questions in every unrelated seminar. So my final conclusion is, they just know an aspect of the topic and dwells only in that. I tried to emulate that, but I was made to arrive at another conclusion that I did not know that topic well enough, hence the lack of knowledge. I turned to another direction: there was probably a flaw in the logic. But sometimes, it's so hard to follow a line of logic because you aren't immersed in the field long enough to know whether the thread is flawed or just contains components that is assumingly omitted because it is so well-established. Or basically, you are just too asinine to follow that logic.

So then, I concluded finally that it boils down to experience. Experience, to identify logic nicks, to know what is going on, to ask questions. It is a convenient excuse to use to not ask questions during a seminar indeed, even though I would like to believe there is an element of truth in it. Most annoyingly though, it brings us back to the fact that I am still a fledging which equates unceremoniously that I am without much experience. So I am still in the cycle. And to get out of the cycle, I have to have experience - in asking questions, which means I have to start asking questions or I can keep mum and allow experience to sediment with time. (Which is not really such a bad idea)....

This sounds like a ranting of a confused teenager. Indeed, I should be focusing on my work now. But I am just not satisfied with the status quo. Not satisfied with the state that I am in, that I am stuck in a local minimum and am unable to climb out.

... yet.... But I will. And when I do that, I am going to start asking a lot of intelligent questions, doling out insightful comments and suggestions. Watch me. *hmhph*

In the meantime though, I will still remain a petulant teenager, pouting at every injustice and sulking at every self-deprecating act... 

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