I get several requests in an average week from people who want me to teach them the way of hacking. Yesterday I got an unusually witty one in the form of a mystical poem, imploring me to accept the author as a disciple. I replied that I don’t know how to do what he seems to want, which is to pour the essence of hacking in through his ears or something. He replied that he was pretty sure I’d say that, but had been hoping for a reply in the manner of The Loginataka.
I told him “Sorry, I was distracted.” Then I wrote this:
Hear, O nobly born: Techniques can be taught, but the Way of the
Hacker cannot be taught. Skills can be acquired, but the Way of the
Hacker is not a checklist of skills. Programming can be accomplished,
but the Way of the Hacker is not a place at which you can stop and say
“I have arrived!”
Hear, O nobly born: The Way of the Hacker is a posture of mind; he who
seeks a teacher of the Way knows it not, but he is only looking for a
mirror. All those competent to teach the Way know that it cannot
be taught, only pursued with joyous labor and by emulation of the
great hackers of the past.
Hear, O nobly born: Great were the hackers of the past! Subtle and
deep in their thinking, shaggy-bearded and with thunder on their
brows! You may seek to become as them, but it will not suffice you to
grow a beard.
Hear, O Nobly Born: The center of the mystery is the act of coding. You
have a keyboard before you; pursue the Way through work.