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On the Want of Assiduity

Assiduity in scholarship is essential for learning; redundancy and repetition will, through reiteration, convey information better than any one presentation, no matter how carefully the lecture is prepared. Acumen is inevitably secondary to assiduity; intellect cannot and will not submit to seemingly unnecessary repetition; yet, that very recurrence of knowledge is requisite for even the keenest intelligence to grasp the information's significance.

Repetition is essential to learning; assiduity is crucial for repetition; humbleness is vital to assiduity. Learning through intellect induces learning through intuition; pure intuition is transient, and grants but an illusion of understanding. Therefore, acumen is arrogant; it sees a way to evade repetition, and immediately follows it, failing to learn. Thus, the comprehension is lost and the assiduity, vital to regaining understanding, is lost, leaving only ruin in further education.

The student living without assiduity is the runner always running out of energy on the last lap, he is the fox staring at the grapes hanging low enough to reach by jumping, but high enough to thwart half-hearted attempts; he is Sisyphus eternally rolling a different stone up a different hill of achievement, and letting the stone go near the top because of some second thought; he is the writer unable to agreeably finish a sentence, and instead having to put three confusing dots... One deserted by assiduity, one left by perseverance, one left with weariness and sorrow, one living with constant uncertainty makes many futile beginnings: starts to learn a dead language to serve as a translator, starts to paint a mural across the Great Wall, starts to reform the English language, starts to reinvent the wheel in his own new way; of these beginnings none survive, none fulfill, and only death ends the anguish of not knowing what to start next. Of course, a few hundred years later, someone might finish the indeterminately postponed project, and perhaps even credit its irresolute originator in a footnote.

With apologies to William Hazlitt.

This essay is Copyright (C) 2000 Alexey Spiridonov. All rights reserved

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