On Experts

I’m getting weary of a world filled with experts. 

Let me clear up some possible ambiguity in that statement. It’s the experts and not the world I’m weary of. 

The study of fairly arbitrary subjects in infinite detail to the point that all meaning and value are extracted from them bores me. While I like to believe that I am, compared to many I meet better read and knowledgeable on a range of topics I have no burning desire to become an expert in any of them. To be proficient, yes. To pull them apart to their core and then to reconstruct them, no. 

The problem with this study of minute detail is that you lose the feel for them. The sense of wonder that attracted you to them in the first place.

That a certain amount of detailed study is required for many disciplines or vocations is a given. It’s not really that of which I speak. Although, having said that, I have  friends who are surgeons and somewhere in their quest for knowledge they have certainly forgotten that they are physicians. I feel though that somewhere they’ve lost the sense of humanity that probably once inspired them. Perhaps they keep it hidden in order to protect themselves from what can be a painful occupation. 

I truly shudder when I see what are gentle pursuits being over analyzed, deconstructed and thoroughly demystified. Ok, not demystified but at very least having almost every bit of pleasure wrung from them in favor of mastering them and making them our dominion. 

You see this in art. If you need a book to be told how and why to appreciate a piece then something is wrong. Art should be pleasing and challenging or it should be balanced and soothing. What it shouldn’t be is appreciated because some proclaimed expert said it should be. I enjoy a great deal of modern art and very little photographically correct art so it is not that I just like a nice picture. 

Wine is the same. Music also. It moves you or it doesn’t. I don’t need a guide to tell me what I should taste or hear or feel. It is an intuitive process of appreciation. Certainly one can be guided and may develop a feel for more complexity; but just not for complexity’s sake. 

Nothing removes the pleasure faster from my trout fishing reading and fishing than an expert who analyses every aquatic environment, insect, water temperature, etc in order to make minute adjustments to techniques. Is there merit in knowledge? Yes. Is there an advantage to be gained? Absolutely. 

My problem is that when you listen to or read these expert discourses you will not hear about the quality of the experience. It becomes about a technical dominance over nature. There is hardly a word about that rush of blood when a fish rises to an imitation. Nothing about the sound of water dancing over a stream bed. It’s about the size of the fish, the description of the equipment and an attention seeking discussion of the technique used. 

Do these experts catch more fish? Probably. Do they enjoy the experience as much as the rest of us? Maybe, but for different reasons. Do they catch more fish than the experts of preceding generations of lesser informed experts? No. No, they don’t. I’ll guarantee you that they have a lot less fun than the rest of us. (Well me, anyhow.)

I wonder whether astrologists still stare up into the sky in wonder and childlike awe. I doubt it. 

Surely experts feel the weight of expectation on their shoulders? I’ve never asked one because I don’t hang around until the Q&A bit of the presentation. You’ll find me at the bar pretty early on in proceedings. 

I don’t want to be an expert. I distrust people with all the answers. The evolution of our species has proved that whatever we’ve elevated to the point of being an absolute truth is debunked later. Nowadays it’s debunked in a fortnight on average. 

Am I suggesting that we shouldn’t specialize? Not at all. Our species had a natural inquisitiveness. It is why we have endured. 

I just think that in some endeavors we need to remember why we wanted to do them in the first place, then slow down, breathe, look around and allow your spirit to dominate. 

Because, if you’re going to be there then be all there. 


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