No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction at anytime.
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction,
a blessed unrest keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.
-- Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille
Was || Will Be || Past Moments || Now || Notes

2002-12-20 - 4:02 p.m.

The value of being well-read

Today I was at the bank, and two of the tellers were talking about whether or not it was disrespectful to abbreviate Christmas as Xmas. And the guy teller was saying that maybe it wasn't because it could be from the greek letter chi. (Which he pronounced "chai" (which by the way is the *only* thing I ever order at Starbucks, unless it's iced chai) instead of properly ("K-eye")). And I had to refrain from telling them that in the early centuries of the church, a more common symbol of Christianity than the cross was the chi-ro, being the first two letters in the greek spelling of christ. But it wasn't my conversation and I shouldn't have been eavesdropping, and besides it's funny that I know more about that little tidbit of christian trivia (and quite possibly many other parts of the faith) than two people who obviously take Christmas to be much more important religiously than I do (which is pretty much not at all).

Not that there's any point to that little story.

But I was just reading jelias and his fabulous entry about the value (or lack thereof) of being well-read in today's society. And it occurred to me that I have, for most of my life, been a storehouse of interesting, but useless information. I have a brain that somehow holds onto the most esoteric crap imaginable. Sometimes, it can make for very witty conversation. Sometimes it can kill conversation. On one occasion, it convinced a woman that she didn't want to go out on any more dates with me (on the grounds that I was too smart for her).

Never has it had any real practical use. The idea that I could make any money off of it (outside of Jeopardy, and I won't go near that smug Trebeck bastard) is laughable.

But the real value of being well-read, or to attempt to broaden our discussion, having an appreciation for art and literature is the effect it can have on your mind and your life. I honestly believe that appreciation of creative endeavors is it's own reward.

I have been brought to tears by poetry. I have not been brought to tears by technical manuals (excluding tears of boredom).

Art is it's own reward. Art is the field of human endeavor wherein we attempt to reach beyond ourselves, towards something infinite, something universal, dare I say it, something divine. Technological and scientific advancement can improve the physical, tangible, material quality of our lives. Art, literature, theater, any creative effort, these are the things that improve the mental and spiritual quality of our lives. I might even go so far as saying that they are what make life worth living. (Well, that and love. And sex. Can't forget sex. Ooh, ooh, and Pepsi. Hmmmm...I digress.)

So I guess what I'm saying is that while there is no job I can get where my ability to quote random passages of E. M. Forster's novels will help, I don't regret for a moment that I have spent parts of my life in those pages. I like to think I'm a better person for it.

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