Apollo vs. Dionysus

The last couple of nights that I have written my blog post in the evening I have noticed a strange phenomenon. I have been trying the technique of reading something to try to inspire a topic. On these several occasions I have found myself nodding off about three quarters of the way through the piece that I was reading.

This is not because it was boring. Honestly I think it is because I still haven’t totally adjusted to daylight saving time. In any case, when I wake up from that short snooze and finish my reading, I find that I am refreshed, wide awake, and somehow inspired. This seems in accordance with an article that I read the other day that asserted that a short nap of fifteen minutes or so had the effect of rebooting your mind. Any longer and you ended up sluggish and dull witted for half an hour or so.

The other possibility is that when you hover around the edge of sleep you allow your subconscious a chance to surface and affect your conscious thought processes. Which ever theory holds, or perhaps they both have a measure of truth, it has served to enable me to write some of the better blog posts to date.

The blog post that I was reading tonight was another one by Alec Nevala-Lee. He astounds me with his riveting blog posts, day in and day out. In this post, he was talking about the fact that there were two extremes of researcher. At one extreme you have the regimented, orderly type that knows exactly what he is going to do and allegedly what he is going to accomplish. He terms this type Apollonian. On the other extreme is the Dionysian that works entirely from intuition and has no idea what it is that he will discover.

In practice, most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We attempt to plan and organize but can usually attribute most of our success to persevering until we happen upon something worth while. Some would contend that the trick there is to recognize the brilliance discovery when you trip on it. The blog post in question was lamenting the fact that most institutions where you have to write a proposal to obtain funding unfairly favor the Apollonian researcher.

While that is certainly true it also explains the fact that true break throughs often come from someone totally outside the field of study. This is because they don’t know what is impossible and they don’t have to justify their funding by writing a proposal. They also often have the passion of the amateur who does something purely out of enthusiasm instead of personal advancement.

Here’s to all the Dionysians that blaze the new trails. May they find their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and never lose their enthusiasm for the pursuit of their dreams.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.