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Self-defence with a parasol
by possibly noteworthy at 7:38 pm EST, Nov 11, 2008

Neal Stephenson:

There's a gap emerging between the kind of thinking that requires long, uninterrupted, serious concentration on something and superficial surfing behaviour.

What I'm seeing is that there's a great deal of people who we wouldn't think of as being intellectuals in the normal sense, but in certain specific realms they are quite sophisticated, knowledgeable and able to focus for long stretches of time.

You're inside for several years and then suddenly the gates fly open! And you're plunged into this complete interaction with the outside world.

From the archive:

Being in the water alone, surfing, sharpens a particular kind of concentration, an ability to agree with the ocean, to react with a force that is larger than you are.


I had one little side room we called “the pi room,” because on its walls were 53,000 digits of pi, done in pale green on black, a “Matrix” homage. But a very funny thing happened once it was up — people would go into the pi room, and their brains would become quiet, and they would emerge relaxed — to the point where if someone was getting stressed, we’d say, “Go stand in the pi room.


That's the kind of thinking that comes naturally in such a place, where 100 years is nothing.

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