I don't know why I like trains
I really don't know. It is just an interest that wells up from within.
And, I don't think that it is necessary to know why we participate in the hobby. This blog isn't a call to circle the wagons and investigate inward, except that I have an observation:
I have noticed that my activity in model railroading looks similar to what friends articulate as their activity for participating in their hobbies--except that, their hobbies are not trains. They describe their interests in terms that apply to me ever so much as it applies to them--except for me its trains and for them its cars, or quilts, photography, or building furniture, or any number of other pastimes.
It is as though the methods by which we express our interests are superficial (sanding, gluing, painting), but that thing to which our hobbies connect us to is something deep within us--an expression of our id. (Can I get a whoot, whoot from the Sigmund Freud fans out there!)
My point is not to try to make a serious connection with Freud, but rather to admit that it never felt like I chose my interest in trains. As though a part of my id, trains have always been there. (As an aside, isn't Forbidden Planet, the 1956 sci-fi classic, a great movie!?) And, I don't know why trains are a part of this when there are dozens of other subjects that draw on similar sets of talents and skills, and they seem as though they could be a substitute for how some of those talents and skill are expressed. In other words, if it were about sanding, gluing and painting, then my father would have been more successful in his years long attempt to convert me to RC planes. But he wasn't, and I think that there is something interesting in this.
I recently started a book called The Knowledge Illusion. The authors, Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach, are cognitive scientists. They write about how cognitive science reveals that thought is not an exclusively an internal process in the way that we traditionally conceptualize it. We tend to think of thought as the machinations of our own mental labor, and that the ideas that result are exclusively our own. But, Sloman and Fernbach argue that cognitive science reveals that our minds are hardwired to mine for information outside of our own heads. We assess and evaluate in real time far more than we retain. And, our minds do this so efficiently that we are weak to understand (or attribute) the extent to which our thoughts and ideas are communal. The knowledge and ideas that we think reside within us are an extension of the information that buzzes about us. And, this has an upshot, they write,"Once we start appreciating that knowledge isn't all in the head, that it's shared within a community, our heroes change. Instead of focusing on the individual, we begin to focus on the larger group."
And this is the impetus of this blog series. I am interested to explore what community influences are in the air when new paradigms come about--either on the individual level or with the broader collective.
A word of caution for this blog, already there are words, like ontology, psychoanalysis, and cognition, that have never, or very likely never, been associated with model railroading conversation in times past. But as of this writing, its Thursday. And around here, Thursdays are for exploring deep shit. This might continue.