Saturday, November 21, 2009

The difference between "I can't " and "I won't "

I got this fundae from a book I read. The name of the book is "Surely,you're joking, Mr.Feynman!" A book 'bout Richard Feynman, one of the physicists I greatly admire.
There's a chapter in that book, where Richard Feynman as a student-who apparently had the same attitude as mine in this respect-volunteers to participate with a hypnotist to demonstrate hypnotism to the class. When the hypnotist asks him to close his eyes, and then further gives absurd instructions, he obeys them, and they decide to demo this on their annual day or some such occasion. Feynman thinks, I can disobey the hypnotist in one of these practice sessions and show him that hypnotism doesn't work, but I won't do that.. The difference between I can't and I won't, will be shown to him on stage on the D-day, and hence the practice continues.. people remain in awe of the hypnotist, and the D-day arrives. On stage, Feynman decides that if he disobeys the final instruction given by the hypnotist, it will have maximum effect on the audience. He can then tell them that all the while, he was doing everything told to him voluntarily, and there's no such thing as hypnotism. So, he plays along initially( thats what he thinks he's doing), and the final instruction is given. The situation is such that Feynman is near the last row of the audience, and the hypnotist asks him to walk back to the stage, and in stead of taking the short straight route, he asks him to take the longer route and enter the stage through the green room, from the backside. Feynman decides to spoil it for him at that moment, and he tries to take the shorter route, but invariably ends up taking the route mentioned by the hypnotist. The demo is a huge success, but it hits Feynman hard.
Thats when Feynman says, " I always accounted for the things I haven't accomplished by saying I can but I won't, but now I realise, there is nothing like " I won't"(or I didn't want it anyway). If you can, you will. Your talent is what you know about yourself, your accomplishment is what others know about you. That's that.


  1. Cool.. Totally agreed... There's nothing like you can do it but you won't do it!! It just means that you can't do it... I loved the last 2 lines "Your talent is what you know about yourself, your accomplishment is what others know about you!!"

  2. Hey nice....Do u have the book...i want it.....

  3. @preksha: No I don't have it. Will ask Krupa if she can lend it.