Marginalia, no.334

I love what astonishes me and only retain that which would excite but forgetfulness in the mind of a wise man.

~ Paul Valery, The Dialogue of the Tree

If wisdom is retaining only ideas that are somehow useful or relevant, then I must content myself with foolishness. But I don’t really believe in wise men, only in differing capacities for astonishment. We see it in our children and it’s the same for adults. You may commit briefly to memory a whole encyclopedia of facts – two days later you will only retain those things that surprised you.

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