Monday, May 03, 2004

Quote on Preserving First Impressions

(Added, 23.5.04: Paying attention to initial impressions of phenomena helps preserve an accurate account of them. Without such recording, our later recollection is typically a gross simplification yet we rarely realise that they are. Thus preservation is important if we are attempting to explain the phenomena, for we want a detailed and accurate account of what we are to explain, or similarly if we in some way need to reason about the phenomena. Too often people will look back at their recollection of a phenomena, thinking it is accurate and sufficiently detailed, while it is not, and end up developing an explanation that only covers toy situations and is useless -- often even as a starting point -- for explaining the real things in the world).

Lafcadio Hearn, quoting Basil Hall Chamberlain, in Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan
Do not fail to write down your first impressions as soon as possible, they are evanescent, you know; they will never come to you again...
I didn't actually come across this quote through that book (which I haven't read), but through its mention in Peter Carey's "My Life as a Fake". I think its point is of importance in trying construct a coherent picture of anything, particularly your own thoughts. I'm not sure yet how to make my point, and my main purpose in jotting down this quote is so as to not forget it.