The important thing is to never stop questioning.” That quote is often attributed to Einstein. I cannot confirm that he ever actually said this. But I doubt I would hear many arguments if I suggested he was one of the greatest thinkers in history.

Is “questioning” really all that important? I guess it depends on how you interpret “important”. At some point in my life I decided to take that path. “Questioning” … “knowing” … is very important to me.

It’s even more important to me than “happiness”. At right now there are some questions about … well … questioning. Caterina says:

I also read a study once of a conjectural connection between intelligence, depression and a “sense of reality”: they tested people who identified themselves as “happy, content” and people who identified themselves as “unhappy, depressed” and gave them a test to assess their knowledge of history and current events. The “happy” people had no idea what went on or what was going on, whereas the “unhappy” people did. Whether they knew these things because they were depressed type people or were depressed because they knew these things is hard to guess.

I know from experience that there is a very definite correlation between how aware I am of current events and how happy I am. I don’t even need to use the example of my extreme “awareness” during the weeks immediately following September 11 to illustrate my point. A much simpler analysis can be made by using the weeks surrounding the whole “Cuban-raft-boy-Elian” episode.

I remember that the events of this boy’s life so overwhelmed the media that I simply stopped listening. I went from being able to tell you which specific bills were before Congress and the names of all of the Cabinet members to barely knowing what the day of the week was. I went from listening to NPR for two or three hours each day and reading the newspaper to listening to nothing but my CD player and reading only mind-numbingly boring tomes on database access.

If you’re waiting for some flash of brilliance here, you’re not going to get it. I apologize, but I’m just thinking out loud now. It’s amazing, sometimes, how reading someone else’s blog will spark a whirlwind of confusion and contemplation in my mind.

In the end I am – and always will be – someone who believes that it is truly better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. And in the end I think … well … the love you take … is equal to the love …

Stewart commented on Caterina’s post:

I bet the first study was designed specially by some highly intelligent researcher to justify her or his own depression. Really think about the people you meet, the conversations you overhear, people you even just see while walking in big public spaces: the ignorant and uninformed do not seem to me to be any happier. Most of the smartest people I have ever met have been neither cynical nor negative.

To which I replied:

I don’t know about “other” people. I think on the surface you have to really decide what you mean by the word “happiness”. The most brilliant people – who are, probably not coincidentally, also the most aware of current events, history, and trivia – I’ve known are also the “happiest”. But it’s a completely different “kind” of happiness than the – to use the extreme – slack-jawed yokel from the Simpsons “happiness”. Some of my closest, “happiest” friends would likely be hard-pressed to tell you any member of Congress’ name. (Forget naming the Speaker of the House or the meaning of “quantum”!) When I am with them, though, I am in a completely different universe than when I am with my more “aware” friends. I consider myself tragically depressed most of the time, but in a ridiculously happy way. I don’t quite know what to make of that though. So perhaps I should have just kept my mouth shut (or my fingers still’d) and not bothered to comment here. But I couldn’t *not* say something any more than I couldn’t *not* go to Google to verify that I was correct in thinking that John “Denny” Hastert was the current Speaker of the House …

There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Many (too many) years ago, when I needed a quote for my high school yearbook, I used “In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make,’ and all these years later I still believe that to be the one great truth in my life. Too bad so many people misconstrued what I meant by that line.

  2. Studies like the one you/she cites are patently dangerous for a several reasons, but the most glaring one is that correllation does not guarantee causation.

    That said, although it’s never been proven that cigarette smoking causes cancer, we know that it causes cancer. Some things just make sense.

    Personally, I find that questioning, even if it leads to darker passages, makes me feel better. It might be reassurance that I have gained new knowledge or insight into something. It may be that I make a connection, mentally, and feel smug about it.

    There are other things, though, that I wish I was ignorant of. Damn.

    I’m finding it difficult to take a position here. You’ve got me thinking now.

Add to the discussion:

I'll never share your email address and it won't be published.

What Is This? is the personal weblog of me, David Vincent Gagne. I've been publishing here since 1999, which makes this one of the oldest continuously-updated websites on the Internet.

A few years ago I was trying to determine what cocktails I could make with the alcohol I had at home. I searched the App Store but couldn't find an app that would let me do that, so I built one.


You can read dozens of essays and articles and find hundreds of links to other sites with stories and information about Ernest Hemingway in The Hemingway Collection.