Ever since I first heard that film title, The Getting of Wisdom, I was entranced with the idea that getting older is actually about the getting of wisdom. Not getting wise, since that implies to me - not sure why - a rather linear, progressive action. Instead, my humble interpretation of the getting of wisdom involves acquiring it in chunks, connecting the dots between clumps of knowledge. And perhaps this is a reflection of the way life tends to work for most of us - bumpily and in a meandering way, stopping and starting as an unleashed dog wandering around its neighbourhood would.
Two chunks of knowledge, no wisdom yet
The experience of preparing my post on Monday, which was supposed to be a quick humorous jab at our Republic's sadly lacking President, but turned into a reflection on how we see faces in the oddest places, caused me to reflect the next day about how we in fact perceive faces. That, in turn, was going to be a simple post about how the brain has a part which does its bit to help us recognise and remember faces...because I'm not a neuroscientist and can only point to the coloured bits in the brain images that say "we see faces there".
But would the post allow itself to be simple? Noooo. It turned into quite an opus of research and gathering of the various insights I'd gleaned over the years, or perhaps not gleaned until I looked at them in hindsight.
...worked with a colleague in the 1980s who couldn't recognise people by their faces, but was really good at coping by knowing what we wore, how we walked, our voices....
...read Oliver Sacks, M.D.'s mind-bending The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat sometime in the 1990s and learned that some people have prosopagnosia or face blindness (along with a load of other stuff about how the brain can go seriously wrong)....
But didn't connect the two then - why not? I had the facts, but didn't have the aha! moment.
Another chunk of knowledge - any wisdom yet?
Five or so years ago, got hooked on those Scandinavian thrillers and detective novels - Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo along with his other two works in the Millennium Trilogy, which led me to the even darker and stranger Jo Nesbø and his hyper-face-recognising recurring character, Beate Lønn. That's where I learned about the unhelpfully named Fusiform Gyrus.
Not an aha moment in sight, though.
Some in-between crumbs of not-exactly-knowledge
More like awareness than knowledge. Despite my pretty terrible knowledge of art, I picked up over the years that the painter René Magritte had a thing for painting men in bowler hats, either with no faces or objects such as apples obscuring their faces. This is apparently typical of the surrealist style. Since I'm not a fundi (now there's a great South African word) on painting, let alone surrealism, it took years to filter through to me that the cover of that book I'd read in the 1980s was a play on both words and paintings. I didn't know artists were allowed to do that.
So - any wisdom gotten?
Had I ever thought about these disparate chunks of knowledge together? No, but thanks to the Face in the Plank, now not only is it all coming together, but I have a renewed (new?) empathy for the 2-2.5% (that's at least 1 in 50) or so people in the world who suffer from face blindness. And by extension, empathy for those who battle with other unseen conditions. Thus the image I posted at the beginning:
The epigraph to the book on which the film The Getting of Wisdom reads:
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs, IV, 7
The Steemit journey is taking me to interesting places and connecting me with interesting people. Unexpected dots, fascinating clumps of knowledge. Ways to bridge geographies, cultures and age gaps. I wonder...maybe Steemit is helping me get wisdom too, one day, one post at a time. And who knows, maybe better understand the world around me.