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“Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” – Samuel Johnson

That may be, but I can tell you from experience that it can also lead one astray.  Since I was old enough to trek off to the library on my own, I’ve followed so many different paths, walked so many ancientrails.  The problem is this.  Each one leads to another one, or, somewhere in the midst of searching for material on liberalism I might find a remark about Greek ideas about justice.  That leads me in thought back to the Greeks, but instead of pursuing Plato I may wander off to the Iliad or perhaps to the  idea of the classics in general which might push me over to Ovid or, aware of the vast chasm between our Western knowledge of the Greek classics and any knowledge of the Asian equivalents I might get shunted off to, say, Confucius or Lao-Tse.  By that time I may recall a tour of Asian art I have on October 16th, feel a slight twinge and decide to  prepare for that.  And, where did all this start again?

This sort of meandering (I have seen the Meander River which gave rise to the Greek symbol so often seen in decorative arts.) does accrete knowledge.  It’s a slow process and the linkages may not become apparent for years, but I find now that associations, not obvious ones, come more easily.  Perhaps all those ancientrails had secret or frequent intersections that were not apparent the first or even the second or third times I used them.  I’m not sure, but there is a richness to thinking now that I don’t believe I had access to when I was younger.

Any of you have a similar experience?

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