In the last couple of days, I had to read a book that was far beyond my reading ability. It was a book that assumed a lot previous knowledge on the subject matter. I had to stop several times to search for the meaning of unfamiliar words, and to cross reference books in the bibliography.
In our safety-net society, it would be easy to judge the book as poor, argue it was unreasonably demanding, say it isn’t didactic enough.
But it is not reasonable to require all books to be written for lay people. How can we expect to reach greater depths of knowledge if we lose so much time re-learning the surface, with every book? No: a work that means to contribute significantly to the whole, such a book must assume that the reader has already covered the basics.
I think the interview went well. Did I dominate the material? No, not in any significant way. I was able to retain some ideas, some principles, enough to be able to have an intelligent discussion about the book and the material within, but I would need a few (many!) more moons to learn how to implement it.
But the undertaking itself, the effort of these last days, it forced me to be a more focused, more rigorous reader. It forced me to make notes and build up my questions to a higher standard. It’s a “level up” that was only possible because I dared to throw myself at a book stronger than myself.
It’s your turn to dare.
Painting: “The Forge of Vulcan” by Francesco Bassano