Wandering

August 28, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

View from Fonts PointView from Fonts PointAnza-Borrego Desert State Park, California My mind is led astray by every faint rustle. -Mason Cooley

When I was in grade school my mom started buying the Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias at the grocery store.  They issued them, one a month, until the set was complete, I believe there were twenty.  They became a source of knowledge and learning throughout my schooling and when I moved on and had my own place one of my first purchases was a used set of Encyclopedia Britannica.  I lugged them around from studio to house to apartment to house; boxes of heavy books, treasured heavy books. 
Before the the Internet indexed the world's body of knowledge I would use these volumes to mentally wander about the world.  Sometimes, out of boredom, I'd open up one at random (say, T-U) and just flip through until something caught my eye and I'd read.  Then, something in that article caught my eye and I'd open the appropriate volume, and read. In an hour or so I'd have five or six encyclopedias open and strewn about the floor as one thing led to another. 
The Internet and HTML lightened my load considerably as I was able to eventually (and reluctantly) donate my Britannicas and move on to the CD and web versions.  The pace of inquiry and mental wandering sped up considerably but, at times, I miss those heavy, brown tomes. 

Which brings me to this.
I went for a bit of a mental wander yesterday.  On three occasions I heard the word dogma.  Now, I know what dogma means (after all I had Funk & Wagnalls as a kid) but I wondered if the narrators did as each usage seemed just different enough to cause me to mentally blink and raise a brow. 

Here, from Dictionary.com:  Dogma - 1: an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church.
It comes from the Greek dokein meaning 'to seem good' or to 'think" which doesn't seem dogmatic at all.  And, within the entry was a small quote by Mason Cooley, "Under attack, sentiments harden into dogma."  Very good, Mason.
This quip led me to wonder who this Cooley guy was and why he'd be quoted.  Turns out Mason was an academic and aphorist.  An aphorist, imagine that. What a cool entry for a business card.   If you look him up (as you must do when wandering) you'll see he has quite a few aphorisms to his credit, like the one I've used above and will probably keep around as it seems to fit me. 

 


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