Attention Deficit

I am passionate.

At this point, I tried looking up the meaning of the word “passion” in a dictionary, and much to my consternation, I couldn’t find a concise meaning that I could use here. So, I will just stick to my own interpretation of the word.

I have been passionate about quite a few things (for the lack of a better term). Most of these passions have been purely academic; I have never acted on any of them. But a few of them, I charted my life around them; I followed them. A long time ago, I started acting on the management bug. I read books, followed people, perused biographies, idolized the likes of Iacocca and Welch, and was convinced that an MBA was all that was missing in my arsenal. But as time went on, this passion in management waned. I tried to analyze why this happened, and could come up only with two axiomatic reasons which couldn’t be questioned further: lack of intrinsic interest and no pleasure. Maybe those two are closely related, but thats a different thought altogether.

Computer Science has been a passion for a long time now. First, it was programming to reverse a number, sorting, and some level of computer architecture. Later it was fueled by other sublime ideas like NP-Completeness (Intractability), Undecidability, Incompleteness, AI, space-time trade off, etc. At this point, I figured that this was one area which could lead to the next level of bliss, if pursued under formal tutelage. I also was in a good shape to try because the computer science bandwagon of the nineties had landed me with the basic qualifications.

During the days leading up to my admission to IITB, and for a long time after coming here, I was awed by all the new concepts I came across, the little anecdotes of the great people in this area (a few of whom I have seen in person here), the underlying mathematical foundations, the so called cutting-edge research that was actually happening here, etc. This awe convinced me that I had made the right decision in turning my life around to get here.

But all’s not well in passion-world.

After a year in the middle of it, the awe is gone – replaced by some form of pragmatic understanding of how all this fits into the real world. I sense that every school of human thought converges into reality. As of now, this convergence seems to be governed by economic principles. Agents like religion, morality, computer science, emotion, management, philosophy, political thought etc. seem to interact in games controlled by demand, supply, comparative advantage, prisoner’s dilemma, tragedy of the commons, etc.

And now, the ruling academic passion seems to be the Principles of Economics. Currently, I am in no shape to go formal in this. But time will tell.

5 thoughts on “Attention Deficit

  1. A lot depends on money money money. If you are starved of the mammon, chances are that you are gonna make wrong choices. But then, wrong choices are rich in the experience and the lessons they have to offer. Given that, do we wanna make wrong choices wittingly for the lure of lessons? I’m afraid we don’t.

    Right and wrong are extremely subjective and even more fuzzy. But I’d look at it this way. A wrong choice is something you regret about later. The catch here is though, you almost never know whether your choice is right or wrong when you are making it. It is in a way like the stock market. You always know when you should have bought and when you should have sold. But you whether you should buy or sell now. The matter is even more complicated with choices because the payoff here is not as easily measurable as financial gains.

    The next not so obvious thing that strikes me is that not many of us have the right to make the right choice eventhough we know what they are. Again, money gives you more liberty than you have without it to make your own decision, right or wrong.

    I’m happy that you have no regrets about your decision. I’m even more happy about your unwavering commitment to intellectual thrills.

  2. I once happenned to meet this guy, (although i dont remember who it is) who said…

    “Whoever said, Money is not everything.. is the biggest fu#$edup desperate a$$hole in the world”

    End of the day…thats what talks…I have learnt to realise this fact over the years, I know most of us know this i.e whatever I am trying to say is true…but most dont come out…

    Ur intellectuality was/is/will remain what they call “hatsoff”

    I am no situation to say anything about making the right choice,but I know its important to make the choice you made work, and make everyone take notice abt it..I feel that all your choices (Except the one) was pretty decent enough and you have lived upto it, I dont feel the necessity to even think about regretting it.

    And Samba, I disagree with not beeing able to measure in financial gains, I feel everything has an implication, since each diff person will have a diff calculator. (and it adds up)

    Jai Byaderabomma

  3. Hmm… What if you did not make it to IIM (as hard as you tried) but made it to IIT. (Serendipity??). What if you misunderstood aptitude for passion?? Lets us face it: all through our learning years our aim has always been to “excel” at exams (competitive, regular claas exams, chess in a way!!). Just because you can understand and crack an exam/subject/school of thought, dosent mean you are passionate about it, instead it reflects on your aptitude. I believe we often mix up one for another!! Hence, I disagree that you ever had/have a passion for either management or CS.

    As far as I can see, you are passionate about a lot of things (Political science, Neophilosophy, Indian culture ….), else you wouldn’t blog about them. Then why narrow down to engineering and management as THE only two career options? The answer is your conclusion: i.e Moolah is king. None of the above mentioned ‘tracks’ are proven “safe options” for the Indian bourgeoisie. They are for the rich or/and brave!

    My take on the issue is that you knew it all along that you could ‘make it’ with CERTAINTY only by choosing the well tred paths of your/our forefathers of the Indian middle class, and all this time, your career decesions were conciously based on “Economics”!! Why then argue about “passions” and have sudden revalations about the impact of the real world on them. This post seems very inappropriate (and pretentious) from a person who never dared to really persue his true passion, assuming he actually knows what he is passionate about.

    PS: I do not have blogspot account. Please reply to if u have any comments.

  4. Rebuttal called for, but that’d mean a detailed exposition on the post explaining what “academic” means, that its possible to be passionate about something before attempting exams in it, about how this blog is not catering just to people who understand NP-completeness, Bayesian Learning, etc., etc.

    Anyway, the moolah part is well justified. There are definitely career options where the moolah is good, and passion doesn’t suffer. Another post, another time.

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