I’ve been pondering the concept lately… in a shallow sort of fashion, of course. Mostly having to do with reading. Not, as chance would have it, because of the issue of Congress passing unread legislation (see previous post). As Mark Steyn points out, that particular problem has passed entirely into another category. The 300 page addendum to the cap-and-trade bill wasn’t even in print when they voted on it. Unread? Hell, it wasn’t even officially written.
Anyway. These latest thoughts stem from a yet another criticism of Sarah Palin’s intellect (I forget from whom), this one particularizing the accusation by saying that she is not “deeply read.”
Deeply read, hmmm? Compared to… Harold Bloom? George Steiner? Katie Couric? Your everyday wise Latina? You? Me?
Now, in reading you have your depth and you have your breadth, doncha? The latter probably more measurable than the former. The former maybe more important than the latter. Depending.
You know, the hedgehog/fox thing. Kinda.
Now, Victor Davis Hanson has discussed the more general subject of the academic knowledge/common sense divide on a number of occasions, most recently here. As per usual, you should read the whole thing, but this was a nice bit of detailing:
In all seriousness at last, I’ve found it was harder to calibrate an old spray rig (without getting Parquat [‘liquid death’ we used to call it] up your nose and Simazine down your pants), with a shot roller pump and worn nozzles. It took some skill to put one pound (and only one pound) of Parquat and Simazine per acre on a two-foot-wide vineyard berm, correcting for tractor speed, wind, leaks, pump idiosyncrasies, soil conditions-knowing that too much preemergent herbicide gives you sick vines, and too little, weeds–than it was to do an apparatus criticus of 200 lines of the Greek text of Aeschylus’s Suppliants-all things, of course, being considered.
More on reading, deep and otherwise, later.