Attic Space

“A man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic,” writes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. “It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent.” For this reason, information is to be collected systematically and arranged neatly in one’s head so that it is readily accessible without having to dig through piles of unrelated facts.

How, exactly, one can systematize all the information one receives is not clear. But even more problematic is the suggestion that one should actively avoid acquiring knowledge that does not have a practical application. (Doyle’s hero, Sherlock Holmes, goes so far as to attempt to forget that the Earth revolves around the Sun because that information does “not make a pennyworth of difference” for his life or work.) However, all information received and considered offers an opportunity for actual learning. Learning is growth. Personal growth is practical. Even the most minute or trivial information can act as the starting point for serious learning, and learning for learning’s sake does have its place. Right?

Beer of the Week: Max – Information that is certainly useful: Max is an all-malt beer made with cascade hops. “All-malt” in this case means “no rice.” I am a big fan of getting away from the use of rice in beer. And the all-malt recipe certainly has it’s up-sides; Max has a richer golden color and a thicker, foamier head than other Korean macros. Unfortunately, the taste is only slightly better than other Korean beers. Sure, it tastes more like beer than the others, but it doesn’t taste much more like good beer.

Reading for the Week: A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Part One, Chapter 2, Excerpt – As our faithful narrator Dr. Watson first introduces us to the incomparable Sherlock Holmes, we learn that the detective is a man of extremes in knowledge; he knows a great deal about chemistry and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of crime, but knows nothing of philosophy, astronomy or literature.

Question of the Week: Even if there is some fixed limit on the total amount of knowledge that the human mind can hold, does it seem likely that anybody even approaches that limit? Can you ever really reach the “time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before”?

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