Not a line you’d necessarily expect from a smoothie-guzzling quasi-hippie like me, who spends too much time exposed to the Steve Pavlinas, Tim Ferrises and Chris Guillebeau’s of the world — and a few years ago even burned his suits like so many feminists’ bras 1 (for real — I’ll tell you the whole story one day).
Let me ‘splain.
Systems are the human superpower. Bad systems are the villains. Good systems are the heroes.
Systems are powerful beause systems never sleep.
A system — a good system — will set you free.
Boundaries set you free.
Limits set you free.
Easels create creativity.
There is no such thing as writer’s block on Twitter — think about that.
Why is that?
Because Twitter is a better system.
A game is a system.
There are rules.
There are limits.
When it’s good (even in a limited sense), it’s better than RL for many people.
Mothers routinely leave their children in the car to die, because of the very good (in a limited sense) systems that are the games that are pachinko and slot machines.
Humans don’t fly because we became more righteous.
We don’t fly because we are the descendants of Orville and Wilbur Wright.
We don’t fly because there was a sudden genetic mutation in 1903 or even 1867.
We don’t fly because we or they singly or even collectively achieved enlightenment.
We don’t fly because we were exposed to gamma rays or bitten by radioactive spiders.
We don’t fly because aliens came through the Stargate and gave us Goa’uld technology.
We fly because we have systems to produce, maintain and manage flying machines (which are themselves systems). We have runways and ATC and radio and manufacturing plants and inspections and a whole mess of other stuff.
We have systems built upon systems.
We fly with amazement-destroying regularity because of good systems.
Human + Good system = Superhuman. 2
Systems are like a recipe.
A good recipe can make even “bad” ingredients taste good.
Think: bread and butter pudding.
Literally made of trash: stale bread.
100% delicious. Tastes of awesome.
Such is the power of systems.
Cheese is rotten milk. Milk has literally gone bad.
But there’s a system. A good system. So it, too, tastes awesome.
Why has the word “system” become a by-word? Why do I hate on the school system like women hate on better-looking women (I was gonna go with something Nazi-related here, but sexism is the new thinking man’s irony, so…)?
Because systems are powerful.
Super powerful. Like I said before, systems never sleep.
And they’re neutral.
They are epic in either direction. Epically bad. Epically good.
The best countries to live in aren’t the best all over.
A crack den in Vancouver or a mansion in Myanmar, where would you rather live?
Rhetorical question. The Myanmar mansion wins hands down.
The best countries to live in aren’t good all over. They’re just good more widely, more consistently. Good more systematically. Good on average.
Similarly, SRS helps you remember kanji on average — more often than not.
It’s not perfect, but it’s more than good enough for practical purposes.
You don’t need to be smarter. You don’t need to become a better person. You don’t even need to work harder.
You are good enough as you are. Maybe you, like me, are human garbage — arrogant, lazy, selfish, lustful, distrustful of authority, incapable of playing nice with others: a real “piece of work”. It doesn’t matter. You’ll do.
Systems, recipes, algorithms turn sewage water into potable water again.
All you need is to find or make a better system, a recipe that will make you tasty.
Acute, patchy awesomeness is all well and good.
But you probably want your awesomeness the same way you want your drugs and Dr. Dre albums: chronic.
You want the chronic.
You want chronic awesomeness. I do too.
So don’t blame Japanese. Japanese is not “hard”. Kanji is not “hard”. Japanese just is. Kanji just is.
They merely exist.
Blame your system. Your system for getting used to Japanese and kanji is broken or non-existent. I know. I double know. I know from past experience and I know from present observation.
Lately, I’ve been hanging out with college kids. They’re on Study Abroad in Japan. Ostensibly learning Japanese.
But there is no system. There is just forgetting and cramming and forgetting. There’s just suffering and self-hate. There’s just magical thinking. Knowledge is being hemorrhaged (if, indeed, it is ever being acquired at all).
Don’t believe in magic.
Be the magician. Be the superhuman.
Get a (better) method.
Get a (better) system.
The system. A system. Your system.
Will set you free.
PS: Sorry for my crap writing. It’s good to have a good recipe, and but 3 it’s even better to not starve . I’d rather just write you something period than write nothing while waiting for something good. Sometimes you just take what’s there.
- Or…Chinese generals’ ships (破釜沉舟)… ↩
- We can easily “prove” — and my use of this term is looser than your Mom — this by contrapositive. More often than not, when you take a human being out of the network of systems that supports him, you find him unable to function at whatever level he had previously enjoyed. It’s not that the person is dumb, it’s just that the system is “smart”, after a fashion. And I really wish that that sentence sounded less disempowering and anti-individualistic than it does.
My point isn’t to put down the individual. I’m just saying, if you’re cold, you don’t learn how to raise your body temperature, you get warm clothes? And you and your clothes combine into this new, “superhuman” organism that can…survive and thrive in the cold? Sorta…
Yeah…this example’s falling apart, isn’t it? . But what’s cool is that this reflects the process of learning in general, if we define learning as a process of “connecting the unknown to the known” ↩
- new word ↩