When I set about creating this blog, the first thing I did was google how to create a blog. (Obvious, right?) One site in particular, in its mission to be thorough, started off by saying that if you’re going to blog, you need to first decide what you’re interested in. Which makes sense: not that people are going to blog about what they’re not interested in (though I don’t know, people are weird), but that you’ve got to pick something in particular that your blog is going to be about.
One problem: if you ask me what I’m interested in, the answer is, “Um, everything?”
I mean, okay, I have my fortes and different subjects I’ve spent some time on. I’m not particularly up on property law or oceanography, and there are somethings I’m more interested in than others, but honestly: give me a nonfiction book written in moderately entertaining prose and I’ll read it through. I don’t care what it’s on.
Which can be a problem. The hours I’ve wasted on Wikipedia, for starters. When you’re interested in everything, you get these moments where someone’s trying to teach you astronomy and you’re completely distracted by how the planetarium projector works (Have you seen those things? They’re awesome!) , or getting sidetracked while looking at art because your brain suddenly decides to take a tour of mineralogy. There is so much in the world to learn, so many different things to explore and study, that nevermind picking a blog subject, living can boggle my mind.
The sensible thing to do is to shut out a lot of it in favor of whatever it is I should be doing. We can’t function otherwise. It’s the trouble we run into on the internet: there is just so much information out there, so many things to read, so much going on, (and so many cute pictures of cats with funny captions). It makes sense to put up filters, to say that one thing is important over another thing, to read local news before national, to focus on areas where we have some kind of influence, or are useful, and a few on the side for fun. And I’ve learned how to do that. Most people do.
Just because we can’t handle all of it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go for some of it. There’s another side of the coin, when we never ask questions. When we don’t seek to understand. When we leave everything up to someone else and retreat into a world of hearsay and assumption. Which is the quickest way to be duped, for starters, and the quickest way to miss something important. Lots of somethings.
Because here’s the thing about exploration, here’s the thing about knowledge: On its own it might be useless, on its own it’s just numbers and letters and facts and figures, cluttering up the day and my computer screen, and the recesses of my brain. But the minute I start putting them together, something changes. Lots of somethings.
It happened to me in college. I was sitting in class, listening to a lecture, when the professor made some comment about a style of music being affected by a philosophical fad. Which I’d probably heard before, but for some reason that morning, my brain glommed onto that idea and never let go.
‘Cause if philosophy can influence music, then how about history? Science? Economic theory? Religion? Weather? Language? Culture? Any music historian will tell you that the answer is ‘yes’. But the thing is, if you take the standpoint of any of those subjects, it influences and is influenced by the rest. Not “may be influenced” either. Is. We can run around in circles figuring out how it’s all related, how everything leads back to everything else. The banner on this blog is a fractal – a Julia set, to be precise – which is math as art. Fractals show up in plants and animals, and fractal analysis shows up in things like seismology and camoflage design. I’ve heard theories on how the economy affects the colors people buy: if you could figure out the pattern, you could make a fortune on paints and dyes. Study two different subjects and how they work together, and we’ll understand them both better.
Put things together, and the way we see the world changes. When we see things differently, our thoughts change. Our ideas change. In the end, we change. The minute I started putting things together, I changed. I’m still changing. And I can change other things.
The vastness of the world guarantees that nobody can be an expert at everything. But being an expert isn’t required. We can enjoy the song without knowing how to sing. The stuff I’ve studied — music and theology — I know well enough to tell you I hardly know them at all. What we can know, what we have time for and what we can grasp, is enough. What we can know is incredibly illuminating. What we can know is that everything is related, that the universe is not arbitrary, that everything has a source, that it all works together. This isn’t cacophony, it’s a symphony.
This blog is about everything. I expect that some of it will be wrong. After all, I’m just an armchair theologian with delusions of authorship. If getting it all absolutely right were the goal of my blog, it’d be doomed from the start. All I’m trying to do is figure out how it all connects, starting from how it all works and down onto where it all comes from. Which I already know, actually, or I believe I do. I’m just not done asking questions. There’s just so much that I’m interested in.