Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Overwhelming Bigness of Everything-

Sometime in the recent past I was watching No Reservations. Anthony Bourdain was in China, extolling the virtues of the roast duck cooked by a man who had been roasting duck since childhood. If I recall correctly, he inherited the roast duck business he ran from his father. Anyway, Anthony was going on and on about how much a man who had been roasting ducks for thirty years would know about roasting duck. How good and succulent and wonderful this particular duck was apt to be.

Thirty years, roasting duck. That would certainly broach the subject of expertise as Malcom Gladwell presented it in Outliers. In that book Gladwell presented the idea of 10,000 hours as the level of time committed to a practice in order to be an expert, a master. Thirty years of roasting duck every day. Yep, I would grant that duck man was an expert on the roasting of ducks.

As I have related before in this blog and some of my others, in my very early youth I developed a passion for knowledge. A passion developed before I realized the challenge of knowing everything. I never lost that passion, but often ran up against the degree to which things were inter-related. A question best answered in psychology would also impinge on aspects of sociology, and require input from archaeology and anthropology and political science.

Overwhelming. I have had periods of despair and depression as a consequence of being so overwhelmed. I suspect I have crossed the borders of madness more than once in my life. I have also touched on the ecstasy of deep intuitive insight. I have know the richness of pursuing a thought or idea through several channels of inter-connectedness to reach a deep understanding.

To choose any one discipline and plumb its depths would be a good thing. A wonderful thing. Many people do so, and some taste from more than one such well. Yet, to so choose is to roast ducks for thirty years. Not a bad thing, especially if you really like duck. Still, there are so many wells and their many more inter-connections. Roasted duck, even masterfully roasted duck, is much better with a variety of side dishes.

And a good wine or beer. Doh! Now we have another discipline; zymurgy. That relates to chemistry and biology and botany, and the many social and economic aspects of beer and wine. They sure do taste good, though.

Especially with roast duck. Mmmm!

1 comment:

mac said...

I seem to recall that episode, too.
I was struck by much the same thought.
I was impressed at the man's dedication. But, I doubt I could do it, not for 30 years. I think I may suffer a bit from the American malady of instant gratification, not heavily, but a bit.
I want to learn how to roast duck, then make veggies, then, find a good partner and eat the duck.
Next, I want a good steak !