Random Sunday Thoughts

Sometimes in my dreams I return to my elementary school, which in dream-form is large and strangely austere. It's full of pillars and courtyards like a crumbling Roman house. I'm ill again; and all day I slip in and out of sleep, and dream of locales, old haunts, childhood memories. As if illness causes a sort of temporary regression.

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It used to be that people wrote books that tried to encompass everything. Histories of the world, of mankind, of the universe, of Europe or the African continent; encyclopedias, overviews of civilisations, tomes that chronicled every human accomplishment since the invention of fire. Now people write books of such amazing specificity: books on the banana, the pineapple, the sewer rats of Manhattan, biographies of little-known scientists and histories of obscure cultural practices.

Is this because we think we have a grasp of the big picture now, or because we've given up on it entirely? Sometimes I think it would be nice if we still had people who could tell us with such confidence that "it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." If only so that we could shout no, it isn't!, if we so chose.

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