Serendipitous Knowledge

atkins-bookshelf-quotationsYou see, [when] you use a computer, you click on the word “ant,” you get the data — [and that’s] fine. [But if] you pick a book and leaf through the pages to find “ant,” you’re going to bump into a saint [Saint Ansurius], and admiral [Baron Anson], a poet [Christopher Anstey], a town in Connecticut [Ansonia]. You’re going to learn something outside of the assignment just because of your own deniable and most valuable curiosity. You’re going to see a word, and you’re going to jump on it, or it’s going to jump on you. Then you have it forever.

Spoken by high school English teacher Jack Marcus (played by Clive Owen) to his students as he collects their homework assignment — three paragraphs on the ant using a print-version of an encyclopedia (as opposed to online sources). The scene is from the 2013 film Words and Pictures directed by Fred Schepisi from a screenplay by Gerald Di Pego. The film depicts a competition between students who argue whether words or pictures are more important. The English teacher, of course, argues passionately that words are more important the pictures; the art teacher, however, believes pictures are more important.

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