Friday, January 04, 2013


Ornamental Knowledge

Robertson Davies (1913-1995), Tempest-Tost (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company Ltd., 1951), p. 196:
"Oho, now I know what you are. You are an advocate of Useful Knowledge."
"You say that a man's first job is to earn a living, and that the first task of education is to equip him for that job?"
"Of course."
"Well, allow me to introduce myself to you as an advocate of Ornamental Knowledge. You like the mind to be a neat machine, equipped to work efficiently, if narrowly, and with no extra bits or useless parts. I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt. Shake the machine and it goes out of order; shake the dustbin and it adjusts itself beautifully to its new position."
Related post: The Value of Useless Knowledge.

Hat tip: St. Izzy by the River.

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