Thursday, January 20, 2022

Einstein & whatever happened to rooms called "the study"


(583 words)

I’m thoroughly enjoying Dennis Brian’s fine 1997 biography, “Einstein: A Life,” about perhaps the smartest man who ever lived. 

What I like about this book is it doesn’t devote a lot of pages trying to explain to a moron like me Einstein’s Theory of Relativity which I find incomprehensible.

I think involves space, time, gravity and the bending of light.

I have my own Theory of Relativity and I think it’s better It’s certainly snappier. Here it is: 

“When someone says they wish they had a bigger family what they really mean is they wish they could pick who’s in their family.”

And nothing I’ve read of Einstein does anything to explain what to me is the most compelling question of all-time.

“Where does all the stuff go when all the stuff goes into the black holes?”

Keeps me awake at night.

So if all that stuff is way, way over my head, why do I so enjoy reading about Einstein?

Because perhaps the smartest man in history was such a joyful human being. He was whimsical, playful, curious and considered each day a very precious gift.

“The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life,” he said, (His more elegant and moving answer is at the end).

He was a very human human, enjoying spending his days with friends and family in conversation with music and a good smoke.

It’s a paradox, but his thoughts on life reveal that one of the most intelligent men in history was actually rather simple-minded.

And that’s about where the list of what me and Einstein have in common ends.

I wonder how much of it has to do with residential architecture.

See, in the Dennis Brian book, Einstein is forever going in and out of rooms the author calls “the study.” He sits alone in these rooms, these “studies,” and he — get this — he thinks.


Now, I’ve lived in or been shown hundreds of residences through the years and never once has anyone shown me a room called “the study.”

I’ve been shown kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, recs, game rooms, man caves — some Southern homes tout FROGs (Front Room Over Garage).

Never once has any man nor woman with evident pride said, “And this is our study …”

I was in college for four raucous years and never once cracked a book in a room anyone called “the study.”

Not only weren’t there rooms called studies, I rarely saw any students doing what the room implies. 

What the hell happened to studies?

I suspect what used to be the study has become the “man cave,” a room where me and my fellow Jurassics can go to fart, belch and complain about the refs — and I’m talking about both sporting and spousal.

I consider it yet another degradation of once-proud men like how what I once called "the family jewels" somehow became "my junk." From jewels to junk in three short decades. SAD!

Well, I decided I wasn’t going to let it defeat me. I’ll not succumb to the further dumbing down of the American male.

And yesterday I spent two hours in the finished basement room and tried to think of ways I can be more like Einstein.

And — Eureka! — it worked.

Right there in my “study” I thought of how I can be more like the great genius.

I’m letting my hair grow crazy!

Einstein on Life …

What an extraordinary situation is that of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist for our fellowmen – in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy... To inquire after the meaning or object of one’s own existence or of creation generally has always seemed to me absurd from an objective point of view. And yet everybody has certain ideals which determine the direction of his endeavors and his judgments. In this sense I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves. The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty. The ordinary objects of human endeavor – property, outward success, luxury – have always seemed to me contemptible.

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Holmesie said...

So different from what is thought of as “men” today. He cared about people. In fact, he was distressed when he considered the use to which they put his discovery of splitting atoms. Today, he (and his ideas) would be dismissed out of hand. And despite his comments on not knowing the purpose of man’s existence, he believed in God. How unscientific! 🙄

Chris Rodell said...

Just a magnificent man. Thanks, Barb!