Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How to Save the World

Wow. I really, really like this quote of T.H. White's Once and Future King, pulled by How to Save the World
"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn--pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics--why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until is it is time to learn to plough."

I haven't figured out what my resolution will be this year (I've got some left, don't I?), but maybe I should try to do this, learn something everyday.

And as I was telling Spencer the other day, "No, people don't learn something new every day, but they should. And learning what happened lately to a movie or TV star doesn't count either."

1 comment:

Glenn said...

Jeffrey, my wife has to read a rather dry-to-her book for her Parent Coach certification called The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman. I fugured, dry-to-her means I will like it. And I do.

I don't agree with him on everything in the book, but I find it amusing that the women in the discussion group find him too conservative while the men in the discussion group find him too liberal. My biggest beef is his use of statistics without analyzing the collection method that generated the statistics. (For example, with cell phones and caller ID -- both "contact blockers" -- how literate and representative an audience can you actually reach in a telephone survey?) Regardless of my disagreement with some of his minutae, I find his general thesis worth examining.

I recommend it, as you seek a new resolution.