Here’s what I’d like to see, either pointers to existing work on the subject or getting to watch someone with better, wider information than I have inventing it: discussion of making decisions about reading priorities that draws on the facts of human maturation in ways shaped by scholarship as well as personal impression.
I lack the sort of background I’d like to see applied to this. I can point at some obvious truths, like:
It’s good to cast your intellectual net widely when you’re young, and when you encounter concepts and topics new to you, before you form mental ruts.
It’s good to be aware of when your judgments are impaired by stress and crisis, and make decisions informed by the realities of impaired judgment to keep yourself out of avoidable trouble.
It’s good to recognize when you’re reading the same old stuff all over again and feel that you’re at liberty to stop that and move on, whether it’s a subject you know enough about now to reach some conclusions about or a viewpoint you know enough about to be clear in your own mind whether you’re accepting or rejecting it.
It’s good to be open to new thoughts, but also good to have some confidence in your own thoughts after a while, and to be aware that you can’t in any event know everything that might conceivably be known about anything.
But I don’t know how, or if, these might add up to something systematic in the light of psychology, physiology, and the like. Or, for that matter, theorizing from the life of the mind as such, in the realm of literature, philosophy, or what have you. Anyone know of such things and want to take pity on my ignorance?
[Photo taken by Flickr user Austin Evans, used under Creative Commons license.]
Bruce Baugh is thinking about this kind of thing as a change of pace from thinking about life in early 20th-century America and the pulp adventure possibilities in social misery.