It’s this perfect day here. Yesterday was too, the quintessential Cape Cod beach day. Baxter and I went for a walk before the fog burned off and now are on the deck, under the sail, staying cooler than we would inside. I had been reading (I’m about half way through The Magician King) and I realized just the stupidest, simplest fact.
I’ve got a trivia brain. I like knowing a lot of things, and there’s not much out there that doesn’t interest me. It’s a good skill, and if it costs me in deep knowledge in favor of a wider basin, well, I can live with that tradeoff. There are things I have an obsessive, detailed knowledge of, but in general I get so excited by the tiny things that I am constantly darting from topic to topic.
It’s the feeling I get when I’m reading a book and in some strange, oddly timed way it reaches out to touch the book I had just read. When I was in school, classes tied together like that; learning about x in history would reflect in the biography of y in lit, who would have been intimately involved in z in political science. I used to think this was cosmic but really it’s just that the world just isn’t that big, and the world of knowledge has widely been written by the same types of people so the overlap is enormous (this is partly why it’s so important to give time and acknowledgment to new voices and underheard voices).
Julia, in the Magician King, is struggling against depression when she can’t access the depth of knowledge she needs. She quotes a line from a John Donne poem to herself (“All these seem to laugh / compared to me, who am their epitaph”). It’s a poem she often quotes to herself. She is brilliant, a bona-fide genius, so it’s not really out of character for her to quote a long dead metaphysical poet, and of course there’s deeper meaning to the poem in re: her mindset, her outlook, her character. But also? Her brain is always questing. She describes it as hungry, all the time.
I’m not a bona-fide genius (see trivia brain) but my brain is always questing. And I realized the books I love, the writers I adore? They share that hunger. Scarlett Thomas, Susanna Clarke, Bill Bryson, Devil in the White City, Kate Beaton. There’s this delight that shines through about the DETAILS, the sheer breadth of things to know in this world.
On this perfect day, when I’m still in mourning and still go from day to day sometimes fine and sometimes not, I’m comforted by the idea that there is solidarity out there. That so many of us just want to be interested. There will always be more for me to learn.