Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Elusive Figure of General Knowledge

I've always been attracted by the elusive figure of general knowledge. By the promise of well-roundedness, by the mirage of a better understanding of our world. And, because of the French wording of this particular concept ("Culture Générale"), by all of the meanings enclosed in the word "Culture". But, more importantly, I wanted to find meaning and order in all of this knowledge, all of this culture.
In high school already, I was avidly searching through encyclopaedias for neat time lines, pouring over the great trends of music through history, taking notes about the succession of ideas through the course of the world. When I began the game of competitive exams, general knowledge mutated into a requirement, and my original attraction became a real obsession. I needed to jump through the hoop of general knowledge dissertation to enter the top ranks of public service and its libraries.

I took the tests for years, always hopeful and enthusiast: the exercise was quite amusing and I was flirting with results almost good enough to pass. Meanwhile, I also worked my way through library school, a first job in an academic library and eventually passed a mid-level competitive exam to become a civil servant. What I've discovered through this process, is that my love for organising general knowledge in my head is what makes me an honourable librarian (or so I hope). It makes me thrive for coherent collections, for well-thought development policies and rigorous classification. But it doesn't make me any better at general knowledge dissertation, and, on that level, I'm certainly not able to compete against youngsters just out of literature or history preparatory classes.

So, I decided to stop fretting about exams for a while, and just rejoice in practising a job I love while enjoying my day-to-day stroll through cultural regions. I didn't give away general knowledge, I just keep the overall point of view for my library work, and dip timidly through its deep waters in my down time, not searching to get everything into my head, just enjoying the ride.
It materialised through different ways. In my intensified readings, in my discovery of MOOCs, in the curation feature I instituted on my original blog. I hope to tell you about all of this in the near future.
It also showed through a broader desire for more adventures, for exploring unknown territories. Since the beginning of this year 2013, I began running, I visited Japan, I tasted tons of new dishes and pushed myself to meet knew people. And now I want to push the adventure further and live somewhere else, discover a new way to work and to live. Taking the German definition of the word and burning to experience another culture, another country, another civilisation. And keeping to pick up bits of general knowledge along the way.

Licence Creative CommonsThe above photo was taken by me in Kyoto, Japan, in April 2013.
This photo and text are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

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