Polymath Challenge, Week 1

This week: Discovering the wonderful world of language “hacking” and actually drawing on the right side of the brain…

Earlier this week, I announced my intentions to learn everything my little Renaissance heart desired. Here’s what I’ve been up to with this challenge:

Almost immediately, I bought Fluent Forever (a book on language “hacking” that I’ve been meaning to check out forever) and Making Comics (an amazing book I’ve read several times but wanted to buy to up my comic-making game).

Only a few chapters in, Fluent Forever has already blown my mind. I highly recommend for anyone wanting to learn a memory-taxing system quickly/effectively. I’d love to eventually (re-)learn various languages, but right now I’m figuring out how to modify the system to completely memorize 100-200 jazz standards (being able to play the melody/chords in all 12 keys). I’ll probably post about this on Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist.

I started rereading Making Comics and realized that I need to get my drawing chops up a bit, so I pulled out my old copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the BrainI bought the book over 10 years ago (there’s a Borders price-sticker on the back, if that gives you any indication). I’d never been able to get past the first few exercises – in which you copy line-drawings upside down to force you to draw what you actually see (R-Mode), not what you think you’re seeing (L-Mode). (The author makes the point that these modes of thinking don’t nearly line up with right- and left-hemispheres of the brain).

As a kid, I was somewhat of a naturally talented visual artist. However, as I was trying to draw my first sketch last night and getting nowhere, something clicked: as I child, I still used L-Mode to draw. I got enough input from the R-Mode, but I relied on my “logical” understandings of geometry and anatomy. Once I stopped trying to draw with perfectly ordered lines, my verbal brain finally shut the hell up and I was able to actually draw.

The sketches (see picture above), don’t look like my normal drawing  style – they’re somewhat erratic with lots of scribbles, not the neat lines I’ve usually tried for. But they are fairly accurate reproductions of the line drawings in terms of perspective. Before, my attempts at these exercises ranged from comical to utter failures.

It’s a truly amazing experience to be truly drawing. There’s no verbal chatter in your head and you move your hand and pencil instinctively, without any thought of, “How does this fit together logically?” I feel like my R-Mode drawing style is so erratic and aggressive because it’s taken a back seat to L-Mode for so long and is like a frustrated child.

I’m still a ways off from learning how to speak new languages (whether foreign or musical) and create the comics that are floating around in my head. But after this week, I have a much better sense of what I need to do to get there.

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist, Instructor, Writer

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