Have I unwittingly perpetuated the false dichotomy of science and art?

Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.

— Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist

Seventeen-year-old me wanted to be a chemist and a published author. When it came to my university applications, being somehow aware of the limits of my potential as a scientist, I took a plunge and enrolled in the faculty of arts with the tunnel vision that I would major in English.

I didn’t expect to be caught up in an identity crisis. I was much more in my element (pun intended) writing chemical formulas than decoding what a crown symbolises in a story. But I was an arts student. That sounded unnatural.

Then, I discovered Linguistics — the science of languages. How ironic. I loved the subject and started to feel a sense of belonging to the faculty of arts and reconciled with the fact that I didn’t pursue my studies in hard sciences, or so I thought. But in reality, I was still studying a science subject.

Somehow I have fallen into my career right now and people think of me as a 文青. Yes, I love reading, but I have never felt natural or comfortable analysing literature. Yes, I love music, but I struggle with playing music. Yes, I love going to the gallery, but have you seen my drawings? My artistic abilities have never come natural to me. And believe me when I say I wish I were more of an artist, because I have never felt like one.

As I desperately resist the identity of being a former “arts student” or “communications specialist” (fancy names, I know), I myself have become a culprit of perpetuating the false dichotomy of science and art.

If I had read da Vinci’s quote 10 years ago, it would have saved me a lot of hard times, but I am glad I had gone through those years of struggle and gained valuable insights into all that.



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