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Notes: The Strangeness of Everyday Things

Have you ever repeat­ed a word to your­self so many times that you begin to notice the strange­ness of the sound it makes? The rep­e­ti­tion begins to con­ceal the mean­ing of the word, so you notice what it actu­al­ly sounds like.

I’ve found the same thing hap­pens the more you learn about a sub­ject. As you bur­row in, the sur­face lay­ers of com­mon sense peel away until you’re left with some­thing stranger.

Strange­ness is a good thing. It means you’ve ven­tured into new ter­ri­to­ry, where oppor­tu­ni­ties can be found and false­hoods shed. I’d say my goal in learn­ing any­thing is to try to find this zone of strange­ness.

In a recent blog post, Scott Young writes about something that I've experienced for as long as I can remember, that point where a repeated word suddenly seems to change.

I've also noticed this happen when doing a repetitive task: I feel the task becoming so automatic that I can almost forget about it, but then something strange happens and I start screwing up, as if the task became more challenging right when I was getting used to it.

I found Scott's point about how we can use this sudden strangeness to guide our learning quite thought-provoking and the full blog post is definitely worth a read.

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