A Note On Process

I've missed many weeks' worth of posts now, and I'd like to examine the underlying reason for it and what this might suggest for the structure of Eclectic Commentary moving forward.

Fundamentally, Eclectic Commentary is meant to be a project about the process of learning and the process of developing a breadth and depth of ideas. This implies a certain roughness around the edges: after all, a refined product is a finished product, requiring no further development.

In writing my previous Eclectic Commentary posts, I felt the pressure to commit only highly refined ideas to writing. This is normally a difficult thing to do in itself, but in the case of Eclectic Commentary, the task is made doubly hard by the fact that I was deliberately trying to learn about and synthesise ideas at the edges of my own expertise. Trying to do so on a weekly schedule, I have come to realise, is foolish, counterproductive, and a recipe for acute Impostor Syndrome.

I would still like to publish on a weekly schedule, though, and to do it in a way that emphasises process and exploration.

This is the way I’m going to do it: when I’m exploring a new discipline, I’ll lay out some fundamental questions that I’m looking for answers to. That said, most of these questions will be unanswerable. The goal isn’t answers, the goal is understanding. The questions are simply catalysts for exploration and new territory.

Once the questions have been laid out, I’ll read as much as I can about the topic in question. Posts during this stage might take the form of book summaries, or they might be notes I make for myself — I’m not sure yet. The goal at this stage will simply be to accumulate knowledge.

At some point, the accumulation of knowledge will move towards consolidation and synthesis. I’ll start making connections between what I’ve learnt and what I know, and use that to build out new ideas to play with. I’ll revisit some of the early questions I began with, and see if I have any more insight into them now. Hopefully these posts will draw from many disciplines, and spark a new round of questions to begin a new line of inquiry.

This means that posts like the previous few will be much more spaced out. The synthesis of ideas might happen only once every few weeks, as opposed to every post. But let’s face it: the synthesis of ideas always takes time, and if I was able to kick out one post a week for a while, it was only because I’d been thinking about these ideas for a while anyway. The way of working that I’ve laid out here will free me from the pressure to produce a refined product every week, and instead will allow me to spend more time digging and mining for information. You’ll also get to read more of the process, and follow along as I learn and refine my ideas.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week. Normal service will resume next Monday, 26 March. Thanks for reading!