Thursday, March 24, 2016

Simply powerful ideas can make for interesting journeys

My interest in finding simply powerful ideas of my own, as I chase innovative discovery, has lead to what I think are fascinating journeys, as am pulled by what I think I should do with some of them.

But those simply powerful ideas have also lead to challenges in how I see myself! As I contemplated how others maybe saw me in the past, in contrast to how maybe saw me after my presenting them.

For instance, actually went back to my alma mater Vanderbilt University in 2003 to visit with a mathematics professor who had said he was open to an on campus visit. He'd rejected a mathematical paper of mine I'd submitted to a journal where he was editor, where readily admit submitted there because he was a Vanderbilt professor. As a sidenote, after his rejection I sent to another journal which published--then tried to delete and then keeled over and died--but that all happened a bit later.

I was happy to visit him and explain the argument in person, as well as see my school once again, for the first time since I'd left, back Spring 1991 when I graduated.

And it was SO much fun in ways, but also felt weird. I'd driven up from Atlanta metro area where was staying with so many mixed emotions. I knew I was far away from the mainstream I'd been taught. And I was a physics major. We'd actually had professors educating us about those people who think they have important ideas that are not being properly acknowledged.

One cool thing to me was had my SAME sturdy JanSport backpack with me that had had as an undergraduate! For some reason had bought a nice soft brown leather one sometime after 1987 and thinking 1988 or maybe 1989. And had brought it to wear like had done over a decade prior. It looked the same. I, of course, looked a lot different but students milling about didn't care. Some staff and one of my old physics professors though I think looked at me with a bit of concern.

Meeting with the mathematics professor went ok. He was nice enough but I'd wanted passion as we stepped through what I knew to be an important argument. It disrupted so much in mathematics I was certain! With his help I felt confident could send shockwaves through the mathematical community and the world. I got patience and some interest as I stepped through the mathematics on his chalkboard, but then was dismayed as the professor hit the door at 4:30 pm on the dot. As was leaving, trying to absorb having successfully explained without it seeming to matter much, noted that it looked like the entire department emptied, like a bell had gone off. Guess that was when everybody usually left. Not happily, went back to my vehicle and left Vanderbilt University.

But I was SO disappointed and unfortunately began to get angry as drove back home, which took about five hours. Guess my fantasy of what would happen had run into reality of what I should have expected. Innovative ideas rarely get just picked up if challenge and disrupt too much, no matter how simple or easily proven.

Got home and sent off nice email regardless of misgivings, more or less thanking. Got nice but to me dismissive reply. That got me back to mad, sent not so nice emails. Eventually got blocked. I think my email is STILL blocked by Vanderbilt University. And don't blame them.

Would take me over a decade to understand how hard it can be. But thankfully the web would be my friend and source of constant support. Through years of upset, disappointment and choice rants there was always a silver lining somewhere.

And today? Not upset. Just SO appreciative of the adventure and the journeys that with perspective, later are just fun to share.

James Harris
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