Thursday, February 24, 2011

curiosity on curiosity

"'Human curiosity,' said Poirot. 'Such is a very interesting thing.' He sighed. 'To think what we owe to it throughout history. Curiosity. I don't know who invented curiosity. It is said to be usually associated with the cat. Curiosity killed the cat. But I should say really that the Greeks were the inventors of curiosity. They wanted to know. Before them, as far as I can see, nobody wanted to know much. They just wanted to know what the rules of the country they were living in were, and how they could avoid having their heads cut off or being impaled on spikes or something disagreeable happening to them. But they either obeyed or disobeyed. They didn't want to know why. But since then a lot of people have wanted to know why and all sorts of things have happened because of that. Boasts, trains, flying machines and atom bombs and penicillin and cures for various illnesses. A little bot watches his mother's kettle raising its lid because of the steam. And the next thing we know is we have railway trains, leading on in due course to railway strikes and all that. And so on and so on."

I read this excerpt from Agatha Christie's Elephants Can Remember last night as I drifted to sleep. It prompted me to remain curious about curiosity throughout most of my run this morning. I think curiosity is something we take for granted, but it is the spark-plug in the engine of ingenuity. I certainly have never attempted to ponder the roots of curiosity (in the history of the world, in our society, or even in my own life). I think we often quell curiosity for many reasons, though I think constant supressing of curiosity can be incredibly stifling.

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