Lend this post a little patience, and read this excerpt
That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it.
“You appear to be astonished,” he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”
“To forget it!”
“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
“But the Solar System!” I protested.
“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”
Mister Sherlock Holmes must’ve startled not only Dr. Watson, who was to become his trusted friend later, but also the readers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book called A Study in Scarlet. When I first read this as a dreamy-headed school girl, I was amused at the thought of someone choosing to not know information thrust at him. Someone after my heart, he seemed to be. But I wouldn’t have the audacity to tell my Maths teacher that algorithms and calculus were of no use to me, would I? So I just allowed myself a chuckle or two. Coming back to Mr. Holmes’ philosophy, let me tell you that after subsequent re-reads (and there’ve been many), I began to see some logic in what he has so succinctly put (Forgive me if I mention him as if he did walk this earth) -“…for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before…”
Fast forward to today’s world, where I maintain three e-mail accounts, one for business, two for pleasure (!). The latter ones are inundated with forwarded mails promising good cheer/awesome knowledge/memorable laughs/unmentionable humour, and several other things that could easily put Mr. Holmes’ spartan mind-room in a spin. And I receive a good amount of them on a daily basis. How will my poor room look like with all the clutter? The pink kittens waving at me, mewing that the world is beautiful; the world’s swankiest hotel rooms telling me I’ve earned zilch; the lovely maple trees in Canada reminding me I love red autumn but will probably not see it today. So much information. Such temptation for a curious mind. It is difficult to handle. Much like a supermarket full of mouth-watering food, or that onslaught of mean reminders at school that probably eating 650.5 calories per day will make me look like whatshername. I’ve been tired of these various suns vying for attention for some time now. Suns that tell me to revolve, just for this one moment.
I open these mails and text messages, not read them and go back to the Inbox to open another. This routine is mainly because I do not like unread mails and I do not wish to read forwards. Since I do not wish to delete them either, I keep them in store for a rainy day when I might need good cheer/awesome knowledge/memorable laughs/unmentionable humour, and one of the several other things. During this routine, however, someone’s solar system does come within my radar’s sensors, and I add a furniture or two to my not-so-spartan mind-room. The room had to protest. It had to happen. One such promised keep-up-with-the-world forward broke my camel’s back today.
It was a video of mama elephant delivering baby elephant in Bali zoo. How splendid the work of Mother Nature! Despite foreboding of something unpleasant about to come, I kept watching the mother struggle to get the baby out. It did finally come out, along with ponds full of its mother’s body fluids. The presenter was in awe. He had to be, he’s an elephant watcher. But what was I doing, watching the video? I did feel a certain sense of awe, being privy to Mother Elephant’s personal success, and her patience and concern, but why, really should I watch a recorded video of elephant delivery? That is when the back broke.
Information overload is another in the list of immoderate indulgences we face on a daily basis. And like all other things, we notice it only when it is time to consult a commercial guru. No one else is equipped to handle such blatant imbalance. At least that is what the gurus tell us. Don’t you think it is like having an invisible hand controlling your own and forcing you to eat, eat, eat? All along it is your own hand, actually. But you have to go to someone to help you beat the stars out of the invisible hand so that you can control your own. Phew. So much work will make any self-respecting 21st century citizen say “I’m beat.”
Just a little help from Holmes will be enough, though. I said ‘No!’ to algorithms and calculus back in school and am walking with my head held high, regardless. I might have had the experience of watching an elephant birth while I’d rather have not stared at my computer screen. But I’d like to say now, “That’ll be all.”