Monday, March 9, 2015

Big And Little Ideas

I'm an idiot. I'm not being modest, I really am. Undoubtedly, some of you are muttering to yourselves, "We KNOW you're not just being modest," but in case some of you are reading along who need more convincing, I will give you 2 very striking examples of my idiocy: in the first case, I ran out of scotch tape. This lack of tape was very inconvenient on quite a few occasions, I was annoyed by this lack of scotch tape for years, literally for years, before it suddenly occurred to me that it was within my financial means to go to a store and buy more scotch tape. Years. I'm not exaggerating. I really am that stupid. The second example: where I live there are 2 different spaces, each one lit by a single light bulb. One of these spaces was too bright when you turned on the light, the other not bright enough, and this too went on for years, it went on until today, when it occurred to me that there was a solution even simpler than the solution to the tape problem, a solution which required no money and no trip to a store. And so about a half hour ago a third light bulb went on over my head -- a very dim blub, certainly, but finally I switched those 2 light bulbs, and already the improvement in the quality of my life has been immense.

So you see, when I tell you I'm an idiot I'm not joking. And yet, there are some things I'm smarter about than average. I've scored very high on IQ tests, and the uselessness of IQ tests is demonstrated not only by their not having caught the idiocy demonstrated by my problems with things light tape and light bulbs, but also by the fact that they wouldn't have given anybody a clue about the following.

I'm good when it come to grasping certain realities having to do with macroeconomics and politics. For example, when I read in Trotsky's history of the Russian Revolution

that events in political revolutions are directed not by changes in political classes but by sudden psychological changes within political groups which had already formed before the revolution, I was very pleased, not because I read an idea which was new to me, but because I was relieved to know that someone else besides me had had that insight, and wrote it down in a book which many people have read. For example, when I first saw Zipcars, I was relieved to see that someone was realizing the idea of car-sharing which had occurred to me as a child in the 1960's, the first time I saw a large city with huge parking lots absolutely full of cars going nowhere, lots surrounded by streets clogged with cars going slow.

I'm not as smart as Trotsky. I got the thing with the psychology of classes before I read Trotsky, but I'm 53 years old and I haven't actually done much of anything. By the time Trotsky was 53 he had published many books and articles, helped overthrow the Romanovs, been the 2nd most powerful man in the Soviet Union for several years, then been toppled from power and eventually exiled by Stalin but still remained one of the world's most influential political writers. I saw the situation with cars in cities but was never able to do anything about it. Right now I'm able to see more clearly than many Americans can the benefits which proportional representation would bring to our country, but I don't seem to be able to communicate those benefits very well, or to convince very many people at all about much of anything. Or to get the attention of the publishers or literary agents who would be able to put my writing before the eyes of large numbers of people who would like it and find it useful.


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