Posts Tagged ‘amateur’

Love of the amateur

November 13, 2007

The amateur is an under-appreciated species these days. You have to be a professional – or silent.

Because most people don’t like to be silent forever, they become experts, and because it is difficult to become an expert, they narrow down what they are an expert on: Swedish Death Metal bands, biochemical analysis of Drosophilia development, Uruguay’s soccer team, 19th century Parisian culture…

But narrowing down is not enough. In order for you to be an expert, others must be amateurs. So you spend the next couple of years showing how nobody but you has adequate things to say about your ‘field’. Suppose you succeed. As a result, of course, you have nobody to talk to.

So now, in order to be an expert on something, you have to show how what you are an expert on is extremely relevant to all sorts of other people, who are not in fact experts on your field. This takes up yet more of your time (Note that these two steps sometimes overlap).

Suppose you succeed at all these steps. This will typically turn you into a professional, for now somebody will be willing to pay you. By that time, of course, any genuine enthusiasm about your field will have left you, you’ve redefined your field according to your need to be an expert, and you’ve alienated a lot of people in the process.

The amateur, on the other hand, wants others to love what he loves. All his actions will directed at making them appreciate what he appreciates, no attempts are made to show expertise, only love. The amateur, like all lovers, is naive, and he knows it.