It Takes Power to Talk About Power

This is the aphorism I mentioned paraphrased. I could have written it; it requires some knowledge to speak about knowledge in a meaningful way. Or even; one has to have at least a modicum of wisdom to speak wisely about wisdom, its acquisition and application.

For me personally these Toltec aphorisms are by nature profound and succinct. It would be relatively easy to expand each one of them up into thousands of words.

Take the alternative meaning of power, the one of positional or political power. Until one has had a modicum of this one does not know what it feels like to wield power. One is also unaware of the temptations posed by such power. One might even get caught snogging an aide in front of a security camera.

Power of this nature cannot really be speculated upon; it has to be experienced. There are many people who might seek power but then when they have it be unable to use it or wield it. They may not like the flip side of “responsibility” which comes with great power as Spiderman alleges. The notion of power is one thing, its yoke quite another. There is another aphorism of my own writing.

“Power can do weird shit to people, man.”

When I started teaching it was before the days of PowerPoint. One used an overhead projector or old-fashioned chalk. I thought I was a smart young gun. That was until I tried to do a live chalk-based derivation of some rate laws in front of a hundred ultra-smart undergraduates. I nearly shit my pants when I had brain freeze and white out in front of the blackboard. Boy did I prepare well after that!!

Yellow chalk and black Levi’s are an interesting combination, be careful where you put your hands…

There is a strange quirk to my character that makes it difficult for me to teach other people. I genuinely have to understand it before I am comfortable teaching it. And for an INFJ that means understanding it on many levels and comprehensively. Others are able to confidently teach material without having to probe it, so far. Those that learn by rote to pass exams can teach by rote too. Because I don’t have a binary right / wrong orientation sometimes those brought up in a “I must pass exams” education system have initially found my methods lacking in confidence of delivery. They want to “know” the answer and I want to know even more questions. I want to fathom.

I had a break from undergraduate teaching for a long while. Then when I came to teach some of the material that I had done previously I started to find holes in the textbook derivations, too many shortcuts, wide generalisations. I found myself going back to square one and checking a whole bunch of stuff that I would have previously taken for granted.

There were some mistakes!!

I have had minor exposure to power back in the days of the start-up. Strange how I was more attractive to the ladies when I had board meetings and shares. At the moment in terms of material or temporal power I am powerless.

I can however say that powerlessness has its own special kind of power under certain circumstances. It takes powerlessness to speak on the power of powerlessness.

Having taught some material over a number of years, one can say that one’s understanding of that material changes with time. It is funny how a new facet and new insight can be had from the very same words. Even when we think we know, there is nearly always another level, should we be open enough to inquire.

One’s knowledge at any given time is just a snapshot of knowledge at that point in time, it is wise to acknowledge that this is all that it is, a fleeting understanding in our journey of evolution upon which there is no destination only travel.

If you think anything is absolute you are wrong.

Even the gospel of science evolves in time. There are many examples of scientists being adamant and later being proven inaccurate by the evolution of the knowledge base.

I am comfortable talking about knowledge, wisdom and power, because I have a modicum of experience of these things.

It is up to you to assess if I am bullshitting or not…