So I finally figured out something today. Office is not for the officer to study, but only to work. As for our poor math graduate students, the work aspect of it is more conspicuous. When four people crowd into one little room, there can be no real productivity, especially when talking is seen as the primary reason for staying in. I don’t know when I acquired my curent level of verbosity, but my logical reasoning skill has since declined dramatically. I am no longer a student per se, but something striding between an old philosophy professor, and a whiny unimpressive student. It is perhaps the worst stage in my life, and I ascribe it constantly to lack of emotional resource. So the question is how to discipline myself and channel my free spirit in the socially acceptable direction. The answer lies in the setting. A library, albeit shared by many users, is perhaps more exclusively devoted to the fostering of learning spirit than an office is made for. The very spaciousness and luminosity of its cavity keep my mind caffeinated in an illusory manner. There is no doubt that if I don’t eat enough, or haven’t got enough rest, I would feel great propensity to doze off while studying in the library, and may well become extremely vulnerable in any outsider’s eye. And indeed that was the case this afternoon, after I had a modest lunch at one of the dining halls, and did not anticipate an onset of untimely famine. Nonetheless one functions perhaps best under a moderate amount of physical vulnerability, as opposed to excessive libido. It is also ok for me to take a nap on the desk once a while, because as Confucius pointed out 2500 years ago, nothing compares with the experience of a student who exhausts himself in learning and falls asleep on his desk, drooling profusely. For some superstitious reason I always thought that sleep done not in bed compromises its quality and hence inhibits normal physical growth. But a true devotee of his career shouldn’t care about his body to such excruciating extent.
Another thing I learned through my brief but brilliant experience at the library today is that I work better when people around me are working on something diametrically different. So I was in Green library today, known for its massive collection of social science material. Obviously people there were mainly soc studs. I get a better sense of personal value, comparative advantage, and filling the need for the community. Although I came up with this idea purely in my head, I have had enough evidence to back it up from my past quarters and semesters. It is always more taxing on the mind to talk about your specialty with out specialists in your field. You must come up with something completely innovative to raise the eyebrow even slightly from your peers. But to someone who is new to the field, or who came to you with only respect, smooth, impressive talking is a much easier task. Maybe the same reasoning applies to static, noncommunicative studying, whence I must be constantly absorbing the kind of activities happening around me, which motivate me in a certain direction of pursuit. Thus we see people like Jean Leray who came up with spectral sequence while imprisoned during WWII, as well as many other scientists who saw their best years during time of war. It’s when the surrounding is not saturated with what we are best at, that we can find our best moments.