I took six years of Latin in Grammar and High School. Even in the 1970s, Latin was considered a useless subject, but for a subject that had so little ‘supposed’ utility, what has surprised me over the years is how much those studies of Caesar, Cicero, and Catullus have shaped my life and my interests.
There is useful knowledge, and there is useless knowledge. Useful knowledge has application. Useless knowledge is just that: useless. There is no immediate monetary gratification or economic benefit, but it is in this useless knowledge that we discover that the loads we all bear can be lighter, that there can be laughter, and that the pursuit of higher things has its own unique joy.
The Japanese scholar Kakuzo Okakura wrote in The Book of Tea (1906) about the pleasure of picking a flower to give to a lady as the precise moment that humans rose above other species.
“He entered the realm of art when he perceived the subtle use of the useless.”
We are not just worker bees moving nectar to feed our sisters.
Want change in your life? Do something completely useless and discover how truly useful it can be.