Mary Ruefle, in a wonderful conversation with David Naimon:
I would rather wonder than know. It makes it more and more difficult to be alive on earth in these times, when your inclination is to wonder rather than to know.
I suppose the example that comes to mind is: it used to be if you were having dinner with people and someone said, “Who’s the fastest animal on earth?” An amazing conversation would ensue. And now someone pops their phone out and looks up the answer. And it breaks my heart….
I really, really don’t like it when people look things up on their iPhones…. I mean, sometimes, of course, I’m no idiot. The encyclopedic nature of the information that’s available is fantastic, but I would still rather wonder than know.
I think wondering is a way of inhabiting and lingering. There seems to be more dwelling. To dwell, inhabit, and linger. I’m interested in those things. And you can do that when you don’t know.
We tend to, as human beings, our impulse is, once we know, once we have the answer, we move on. So we’re constantly moving from one thing to the other. I would rather inhabit the question, or dwell. For me, that is the place I want to live in.
I have an encyclopedia at home. It never occurred to me there was ever anything wrong with it until my friend pointed out it was an Encyclopedia Brittanica from 1910 and it might be a little outdated. I still look things up in it! […]
My oldest son used to ask me questions and when I said I didn’t know the answer, he’d say, “Look it up on the Goggle!” It takes discipline, now, not to look things up immediately, but to sit and wonder…
Then again, when you do look things up, you find more things to wonder about.