mercredi, novembre 04, 2009

Don't be afraid to wonder...

Sometimes, because it fits our need to classify and pin down, we think of science, and of scientists as dealing solely in evidence, in the concrete, in what they already know they can project.

Science is also, as Olivia Judson points out in her blog post in yesterday's New York Times, about using one's imagination. Where would we be without the ancient Greeks using mathematics to chart the movement of the stars, without Galileo throwing out the ancient maps, without somebody who imagined that a mold could be used to successfuly treat infections?

Yet so often we relegate imagination to the humanities (and, of course, to religion) -- as if, in putting it outside of the realm of the factual and concrete, we might somehow make it less real.

As we try to quantify religious experience, so we also do with creativity -- if we could but find that particular part of the brain that dreams, and looks hard, and wonders, and comes up with answers to questions no one has yet thought to ask.. then perhaps we'd be able to figure out how to make it happen again.

But somehow I don't think we'll ever be able to map the creativity of the genius -- or duplicate it.

Leave the scientist, or the hermit, or the artist to venture where no one has gone before. A culture that strips away wonder, that doesn't allow for mystery, is a culture without an inner life.

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