Monday, November 13, 2006

The One in the Many… many… pieces.

The details flood in, syntax changes, new methods & properties, a completely new and jarring look - I've got a high level understanding of what the overall concept is, but connecting the, at this point, still nearly senseless flood of particulars to the sensible comprehensive conceptual plan, is slow going to say the least.

Every skill and understanding you've developed threatens to be washed away in the riot of unfamiliarity.

Focus in, then withdraw and reflect - it is only just beginning to start to integrate... not unlike a few scattered pieces of a puzzle that fit together, amongst the senseless spray of pieces across the table - the thumbnail picture there before me, the full sized pieces a disintegrated mess. Slowly they come together, then one piece links another couple pieces, soon the border of the puzzle is laid, and then more and more, the particular pieces reflect the larger picture and established the pieces, and the picture comes together more and more.

I'm talking about a new (to me) programming language and application architecture, but of course I am also talking about the horizontal and the vertical. The only way to unite them is to do so step by step, in the face of the multitude of horizontal particulars that threatens to swamp your united mental picture. You look at the randomness of each piece, and it is so obvious that there is no way that they are related, you feel foolish thinking that they could form one picture, one concept, one truth.

You have to hold on to the One, you have to know that without the One, there is no many - and also that the One requires the many to become One. Focus in on the pieces - you must do so, or you get no grasp of their form. But then you must also sit back and reflect on the whole, you must keep that image intact, until you begin to see the many within the one.

The plan comes first - a high level integrated view of the world, it seems sensible and you buy into it. Then when it comes time to apply that understanding, you find that your high level understanding begins to crumble on contact with reality. You're mentally assaulted with a myriad of pieces, seemingly completely separated in time and place, and only very slowly are you able to tie them back to your larger world view. With diligence and reflection, the pieces come together, the concept takes shape in the particulars of your life, what seemed separate, shows itself to be in truth fully integrated into all the areas of your life.

Learning requires an idea to be planted first, then particulars to be examined, and slowly fitted together and integrated into a working whole.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The joke is that they happen simultaneously, they both come first. Yes, that IS Truth. And they rely on each other together to exist at all. As it is above, so it is below.

One of the things that drew me to programming was its many resemblances to philosophy, the mind and life. It still keeps me going, even when it makes me question every confidence that I've formerly felt, and to re-confront every fear that abounds in uncertainty, certain only that following the plan will eventually relate the pieces into the overall picture. The uncertain chaos will continue to fade, and understanding will set it in, and soon after foresight and familiarity will return as well as the Many become One… once again.

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