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  • Writer's picturedavidauten


Curiosity did not kill the cat. Curiosity no doubt gave rise to the cat. Someone, somewhere along the way, a clan or tribe deep in the ancient wilderness of Europe or Africa, aeons ago in evolutionary history, an early hominid perhaps, became curious, and wondered: what would it be like to actually entertain the notion of an interspecies habitation? The curiosity (surely not stated as such though felt nonetheless) was imagined possibly due to the safety benefits it would afford while traveling through the wild of the world, and maybe out of a desire to forge a new friendship with nature itself, albeit with a virtual alien, fury and ferocious, eventually leading to the domestication of the cat, and similarly with the domestication of the wolf. These curious creatures, detecting scents we cannot detect, hearing sounds we cannot hear, are actually not entirely different from us on at least one point, namely, our shared curiosity. Curiosity seems to be a defining feature of consciousness, an exploratory inclination embedded in the psyche, and a bed fellow to creativity, giving rise to the virtuosity of a Van Gogh, and the ostentatiousness of an Oppenheimer, all in one fell swoop. Curiosity has no acquaintance with innocence. Rather, simply, purely, almost naively, curiosity is a longing immemorial to reach over the horizon, transcending the moment, surpassing the staleness of the status quo, all while slipping beyond the confines of the known into the ether of the abyss, no matter what might arise, good, bad, or otherwise. To be curious is to be open, to wonder and risk, birth and death, hope and despair, salvation and annihilation, and many other dialectical possibilities simultaneously. It is curious that curiosity itself, so basic and seemingly innocuous, contains such dazzling potential, often exquisitely expressed in that waving, winding mark of the question mark. “The true blessing of a library is not that it contains all the answers,” Alberto Manguel once said, “but that it encourages us to ask questions.” Indeed, not only libraries but life itself evokes the organics and orgasmics of asking, wondering, reflecting, contemplating, ruminating, deliberating, adventuring, all while knowing that without the unknown, without the question, we cease to be human, being only, instead of also becoming. Piety, philosophy, and points of view proffering little more than answers are the antithesis of life, and enemy of intellect. The liquid nature of reality longs to be lived, not answered, and the beauty of curiosity is the effervescence it brings to the mystery of our becoming.


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