Word Day / Curiosity : Indifference

Curiosity started life (14th C.) as a negative quality of sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. As in, “Curiosity killed the cat.” It is a curious convenience to psychology, that the negative usage of “curiosity” has been resurrected and applied as a symptom of developmental disability in Asperger children. This is a common social tactic: Admirable qualities such as individuality, creativity, self-expression, questioning the status quo, independent thought, courage, etc. are “pushed” as ideals, but when individuals or groups display those qualities, their actions are effectively quashed.

Thesauruses suggest that indifference is the antonym for curiosity. I’m not sure; indifference doesn’t “feel” adequate to express “lack of curiosity.” Lack of curiosity is simply one of those incomprehensible social typical states that an Asperger “senses” as a “blank grey nothingness” and when facing interaction with many social typical individuals, this “blankness” sometimes makes it impossible to respond in any meaningful way. This blankness is imposed upon our image of a person. I’m not speaking for all Aspergers, but I know that visual individuals “see” personal qualities emanated by people. This isn’t magic or supernatural stuff: we visualize information acquired in the environment; if there is no information, we “see” a void.

Curiosity has become “popular” as a New Age Psych cure for unhappiness. I’m not sure that one can force curiosity, but it may be awakened in children if the environment doesn’t discourage inquisitiveness, which American schools do with sweeping vigor.

Some quotes on curiosity:

“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.” ― Oscar Wilde,

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” ― Richard Feynman

“The love of knowledge is a kind of madness.” ― C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

“There are young men and women up and down the land who happily (or unhappily) tell anyone who will listen that they don’t have an academic turn of mind, or that they aren’t lucky enough to have been blessed with a good memory, and yet can recite hundreds of pop lyrics and reel off any amount of information about footballers. Why? Because they are interested in those things. They are curious. If you are hungry for food, you are prepared to hunt high and low for it. If you are hungry for information it is the same. Information is all around us, now more than ever before in human history. You barely have to stir or incommode yourself to find things out. The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.”Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles

“Curiosity and irreverence go together. Curiosity cannot exist without the other. Curiosity asks, “Is this true?” “Just because this has always been the way, is the best or right way of life, the best or right religion, political or economic value, morality?” To the questioner, nothing is sacred. He detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality, rebels against any repression of a free, open search of ideas no matter where they may lead. He is challenging, insulting, agitating, discrediting. He stirs unrest.” ― Saul D. Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

Some quotes on indifference:

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