19 June, 2012

The Walking Intelligentsia

Just today, I’ve started reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The first 60 pages have been a good, yet a quite unsurprising read. This not a negative comment as such – I genuinely find the book well written - it’s just the content isn’t that new to me.

An interesting statement, however, caught my eye in the fifth chapter, where Taleb writes
This argument [--] was rediscovered by my friend the (thinking) mathematician Bruno Dupire during one of our intense meditating walks in London – on of those intense walk-discussions [--]

What’s interesting about this is that in another book by another author, I also had the pleasure of reading about the author’s pleasingly meditative intellectual walks. Now, I have to ask: Are these walks really something people in actual, real life engage in, or are they just token encounters meant to signal that the revered author is part of the intelligentsia?

Somehow the idea of a meditative walk just doesn’t figure in the picture of modern life with ringing alarms, phones and meetings. I wish it did – and that’s exactly the reason for my suspicion. I have never encountered a group of people on an intense walk during daytime. It’s more often a single individual, hurriedly making his way to a car, with phone in one hand and papers in another. The only intense part of his appearance is the frown on his face.

Well, you never know – maybe intelligence just correlates with walking in a very strong fashion.