Monday, March 28, 2005

The Joy of Incomprehension

by Skald/AJ

I think Ive identified the core reason I failed at every language I tried to learn-- I dont want to learn them. Its as simple as that.

The pattern is always the same. In a huge rush I learn enough for survival: numbers, basic expressions, how to direct a taxi, etc. Then all progress stops. Yes Im lazy, but it goes farther than that.

In fact, I enjoy not understanding. I dont want to understand.

Incomprehension is so much more rewarding. I gain tremendous mental peace. I can sit in a coffee shop surrounded by chattering people and it doesnt disturb me. I only hear the sounds and vibrations. No thoughts intrude. No distractions.

Its the same with advertisements. I see the pictures but I cant read the words. People are barraged every day by a battery of marketing... but much of it escapes me. I cant read the signs, I dont understand the words or the jingles. Its just melodic noise to me.

Thus I gain tremendous mental space. I can immerse myself in thought & perception without distraction.

When I encounter loud, English-speaking tourists I realize how important this is. I find it impossible to tune out their conversations. They distract me. They irritate me. Often I must get up and leave.

Much of day to day conversation is banal, gossipy, and distracting. By missing it, I gain more than I lose.

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