What can Icarus teach us about learning with limitations?

Michael Lievens
May 3rd, 2016simple nature

“During the fall of 2015 I discovered these open source textbooks at www.lightandmatter.com. I use the open source PDF to generate an audio file of the text with my text-to-speech software. Meanwhile I also bought the two Simple Nature books with a much appreciated Strabismus World donation in order to track the printed text visually. This way I can read/listen to the content in a way that works for me and make up for some holes in my general education. Anyway, loving the open source platform and wanted to share the excitement. I always appreciate products that break down my barriers to learning.”



Michael Lievens
May 8th, 2016

“One of the aspects I very much like about these physics textbooks is that they are, on the one hand, written in accessible language but, on the other hand, also explore concepts and ideas quite thoroughly. I never fully understood many of these concepts simply because I never had the visual bandwidth to read about them.  Starting with a popular science book about Nicolas Tesla last summer, I am finally starting to accummulate some knowledge about these matters. The hard sciences are very visual and require reliable and stable vision to learn about them. The visio/audio mix of reading I’m applying since last summer is opening up that knowledge. This is not feasable with audio alone. That’s definitely a good evolution.  I shouldn’t be too greedy and overdo it though. I’m like an addict when it comes to reading/learning. I want to do it even when my head, jaw and eyes hurt! Other fields I want to explore ,after my basic physics and chemistry are straightened out, are cosmology and astrology. I don’t know if my vision will ever function smoothly enough to go with my first love again: computer science.”



Liz Simpson
May 8th, 2016

“Visual bandwidth – LOL – I really like that. It’s wonderful that you have interests like this. They are opportunities to expand one’s view of the world. I felt like that when learning some botany. It was so wonderful to start seeing patterns, to understand structures within structures and the interplay of factors that go into what we see on the surface. It is quite amazing to realize the work of scientists compared to the mundane activities of many professions.

I do understand the addiction thing. Some feel that obsession is the gateway to addiction. Of course desire, curiosity, yearning for a deeper understanding can all transport us beyond our present states. Pain, both in its acute and chronic form, changes our behavior and sometimes it is worth chewing through the restraints. This is especially true when you are close to grasping a concept or have the sense that knowledge begins to coalesce. Maybe it’s even more important to reach that state when attempts have been frustratrating. When you finally reach that state and get the ideas flowing, you find your authenitic “you” that is not incumbered with limits.

Icarus, however, was overcome by the incredible feeling of flight. He was so taken by the experience, that he flew higher and higher. 

‘… The flight of Icarus could be interpreted as a lesson in the value of moderation. The danger in flying “too high” (i.e. melting of the wax wings) or in flying “too low” (i.e. weighting down the wings by sea-water spray) were advocations for one to respect one’s limits and to act accordingly. …’


I can imagine how important the visual component is to synthesize things. I too have to slow down on my exercise. I overdid it with my walking exercises. I too was enjoying imaginging I had no limits. I have yet to establish a routine in the morning that reduces pain so currently  I am doing ‘malapative things’. I better stop typing now.”

This article has 2 comments

  1. Bill Johnston Reply

    My Facebook profile got hacked so I deleted the whole profile, and Messenger too.
    Somebody made a post with my photo and name on it but I didn’t post it. I’m a computer programmer myself so the moment I realized what it was I knew exactly what to do: NUKE! NOW! The profile was gone in seconds.
    My concern is that the post might have gone to my Friends. If you have anything posted that isn’t typical of me, please delete it. I’m just going to lay low for awhile so if you get anything at all with my name on you’ll know it isn’t from me. Report it.
    Bill Johnston

    • Michael Lievens Reply

      Ok, thanks for letting me know! When such things happen I usually just change my password which does the trick. If you need anything, e-mail me. 🙂

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