I’m trying to learn formal logic. Don’t laugh! Stop laughing! I am. I’m reading a stack of books now on logic, fallacies, syllogism (which I can barely spell), and, you know, stuff. Why am I torturing myself like this? Every writer’s ice burg: research. Ice burg because research is the ginormous amount of time and effort that is integral, apparently, to writing a novel, and in fact supports a novel from beneath…only no one ever sees it.
I remember taking a class in Symbolic Logic at university—I think it stood in for a math requirement or something. Shockingly, I got a 99%. That’s an A+, thank you very much. I received perfect scores on all the exams (but neglected to do any of the homeworks, thus losing that one point), and the whole experience was strange because the it felt like I was doing nothing at all to deserve these grades. I mean, we did stuff, I guess I memorized things? But it all seemed very obvious, like learning how to play a game or follow instructions on a complicated piece of electronics, if this, then that, it wasn’t tricky. Many of the others weren’t having an easy time of it. Maybe, thought I, I’m just innately logical?
I said stop laughing!
Anyway, when I started thinking I needed to know more about formal logic for a particular character I’m trying to write, I thought maybe something of that long ago class would arise from the dust bin of my brain and grace me with intuitive understanding of logic’s inner principals.
Okay, okay, now I’m laughing. Because either I never knew these mysterious inner principals, or they’ve vanished, or or, something, because my eyes glaze over INSTANTLY whenever I’m trying to read these books. I have to keep squeezing my brain to get it focus. What is my problem? It’s like my brain has gotten all mushy and sludgy and just can’t come to attention any more. Maybe I need more coffee? Has the hormonal soup of pregnancy, childbirth, lactation and sleep deprivation passed over my brain in a giant tidal wave leaving, as my children grow up, a swampy morass in their wake, where once my sharp intellect flourished? I’m pretty sure I had an intellect at one point, pretty sure….
Meanwhile, I’m wading through such things as the petitio principii, confirmation bias, and falsifiability, affirming a disjunct, denying the antecedent, false dilemma, false attribution, fallacy of the single cause, lion and tigers and red herrings, oh my—
But seriously, it’s weird to realize I’m out of practice with the sharp thinking. I wonder if forcing myself to comprehend this stuff will whip my brain back into shape. It’s scary to have so much trouble holding these thoughts in my head, like I’m in the pre-pre-cursor to dementia. Is this a slippery slope I’m on? Jane, stop this crazy thing! There IS an unfocused, broadly cast attention net State of Being that is part of being a mom, where I’m loosely aware of what both kids are doing, wherever they are, plus doing two or three things myself (cooking something, writing something, cleaning up something)…plus thinking about a couple dozen other things at once, or possibly in some quick, if random, rotation…and this state seems to be the opposite of focused, clear intellectual thought.
Or maybe I’m just being mentally lazy and trying to justify myself? Maybe I’m becoming stupid. If I were smarter, I could use logic to answer my own question, couldn’t I?
Anyway, if you have ever read a good, friendly, funny-is-a-plus book on logic, let me know. One with stick figures, maybe, and small words.
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