Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Basic Discipline

"We cannot think if we have no time to read, nor feel if we are emotionally exhausted, nor out of cheap material create what is permanent. We cannot co-ordinate what is not there." (Cyril Connolly)

A scholar should write at least 27 minutes a day. (There are different schools of thought about this. I'm just going to tell you what I think this morning.) In the evening, the scholar articulates one thing he or she knows in a simple, declarative sentence. In the morning (usually as the first order of business) the scholar writes a paragraph in support of that truth. The paragraph should be at least six sentences long and no more than 200 words. The 27 minutes includes writing, reading out loud, and some editing. After 27 minutes, the scholar takes a three-minute break and moves on to the next order of business, which may or may not be another paragraph, the central truth of which had also been articulated the previous evening. The scholar will write up to six paragraphs in this manner on a given day, i.e., no more than three hours' worth.

By observing this discipline, the scholar's mind is formed in a particular way. The scholar is making explicit the units of his or her knowledge. The scholar is training an ability to produce prose of a particular kind, namely, scholarly prose. If the scholar is already a good writer, the scholar is keeping himmerherself in shape, maintaining also the ability to focus dependably, long enough to form a thought in prose. Discipline coordinates a "there" for the work of knowing.

1 comment:

z said...

What an excellent post!!!