Earlier this week, I got the opportunity to read the book, The Foundation by Anton Chekov, A book in which a person suggests that a current regime and the current empire and regime might be crumbling and that one way to save it would be to create a foundation which progressed through the ages and within a millennium became the new empire. What I found very true about the current regime was familiarity breeds contempt, the empire had been in place for hundreds of years they could not accept an eminent truth that they might be crumbling away.
Even within the new Foundation, which goes through crisis after crisis, One of the most striking developments is how when they encountered in the first time they couldn’t see past their goal, They couldn’t see past their orthodox mission and the crisis that was reaching them. One of the most striking conversations for me in the book was when someone interested in archaelogy is asked, why doesn’t he actually go to the place and actually study it in reality, to which he answers that historians have made a very good record of the various things that have occurred through history and how would he someone who had just spent some time in the field rival people who had spent their life studying those places, so he justifies just reading their accounts and brushing past self exploration. It made me think, how even we would rather be inclined to agree with him that we couldn’t rival experts in a field and we should just read what they’ve mentioned. Maybe thats where we go wrong and stop exploring new ideas, when the best of the field fail at doing something, the question we ask ourselves is “Why would we succeed?” It connects to a larger thought process in my mind where in today people who are ideators and builders get instantly discouraged when we see someone else who has already pursued the idea and succeeded at it. Why don’t we try to implement our version of the idea? Maybe we would something different than this person who succeeded at it already? This is because in today’s world novelty is rewarded more. Reinventing the wheel is something we aren’t inherently taught or we aren’t inherently skeptical of the ideas that are made available to us, this leads us to never explore.
The emperor of all maladies, is a book that ushered me into the world of cancer. In the time I read it, It was a constant captivating read about how we’ve been plagued by a disease originating within our own bodies. Cancer to me felt like the perfect disease to ever affect the human body, each time it was tried to cure, patients would go into short remissions and the cancer would relapse this time not responding to earlier treatment. It sounded to me like we had a disease which evolved faster than we were capable of comprehending. We kept trying to solve the disease clinically, by methods of surgery and then by half baked attempts of chemotherapy without ever truly understanding the underlying diseases. Nobody ever tried to look into it, because we were more obsessed with curing the disease than understanding it. It was only in the later half of the 20th century when a few researchers decided to go on a hunt for understanding cancer that we came to the idea that cancer was basically mutations that are produced in our bodies which affect the pathways and keep proliferating until they wreck havoc in bodily systems. I guess this book was somewhat of a vindication to my earlier idea that we needed to be inherently skeptical of things done before us and keep trying to do things in our own way even if they were tried or done before.
Just a few hours ago, I read the article about Jim allison who won the nobel prize in biology for finding the existence of t-cells which might ultimately be a key part in curing all kinds of cancers. Although at some point in his journey he did an experiment which someone else also did and succeeded, he urged the postdocs under him to try it in a different way to arrive at a different solution. I’ll keep rewriting this article probably until i articulate the idea well, but i guess we need start trying out more of the same ideas, because no two people approach an idea in a similar fashion.