Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Death of Imagination

When I was in India, I thought that the American University system would be fabulous. I thought that an American university would celebrate intuition. Would celebrate creativity. Would celebrate imagination.

Of course, I was in for a rude shock. I was raised in an atmosphere at IIT where asking challenging questions was considered good. Professors (bar a few unqualified ones) were in general enthusiastic about answering these questions.

I'm taking three graduate courses here at A&M. The classes here, in comparison to those at IIT are, well, pathetic. Students are spoon-fed by professors; challenging questions are answered in such a way that I get the feeling that they are frowned upon. Everything is worked out in class. Assignments are so mind numbingly simple minded that the ennui of solving them forces mistakes out of you.

I am really surprised that this mediocrity culminates in 'cutting edge' science. I have now become extremely cynical. I am sure that if cutting edge comes out of this place, then it must be a joke.

I worked on a term paper back in IIT on buoyant turbulent flows. And here, I am doing a course on how to derive the Navier-Stokes. To the non-initiated, it's like learning to write like James Joyce and then re-learning the alphabet. So far the only creativity that I have been upto in the USA is blogging. And if you've read my recent plots, you'll realize that I must have lost my creativity somewhere. Lost and buried it.

There is no challenge anywhere here. Everything is spelt out in class. The only challenge is organizing oneself!

I saw a Simpsons episode long ago when Lisa Simpson thinks that a sudden dumbening [sic] process has beset her. It would not be too far from the truth to say that something similar is happening to me. Only, Lisa discovered, to her delight, that she was okay towards the end of the episode. Is there a happy ending for me?

Thank God for the fact that I will probably opt for research hours next semester. Hope that will be better. Life is unliveable without challenges. And of course, there's always the Catch 22 silver lining: living this challenge-less existence will be quite a challenge.

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