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Introspection

Sea of Information

The Wende Muesum in Los Angeles has book-lined halls. The books are written in a language I do not understand, using an alphabet I do not know.

The Wende Muesum in Los Angeles has book-lined halls. I do not understand the language or alphabet of these books.

Books filling shelves from floor to ceiling

This is enigmatic. The author(s) of each book spent weeks to decades distilling their thoughts and encoding that distillate into language. The craft of storing that language in books is a major industrial effort; farmers growing the cotton for the cover, sawmill workers reducing trees to chips for pulping, and so on.

Each book represents a great deal of human effort. Even ignoring the tremendous supply chain necessary to make a book, and just focusing on the author’s effort, each book contains a portion of a human life, expressed as time spent thinking and writing.

I am curious to read the books. Time and effort can overcome the language and alphabet issues. There are elements of understanding that I will never be able to achieve, because I will only have a vague understanding of the context for each author’s effort. But, if I were able to read them, I could achieve some appreciation of them.

The question is whether I am willing to do what it takes to satisfy this curiosity.

This is a microcosm for my relationship with information. When I visit a city, I want to see all of it. But I can’t because of time and endurance. When I read history, I want to know the truth of it. But I can’t because not all truths are written.

With effort, more understanding is possible. So, I must choose my spot on the effort-to-understanding spectrum. And 100% understanding is rarely an option.

Trying to know everything is like trying to consume the sea. You won’t be able to. Some times, it’s best to enjoy the view from the shore. Other times, swimming in the waves is worth the effort.

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