"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us."
I was a pretty good student, but loved school so much that I was a full-time student until I was 26 years old. Yet, I believe that I learned most outside the school walls, outside the confines of curriculum. I was never taught Proust, Herodotus, Plutarch. I was never taught Maeve Brennan or E.B. White. No one took time to teach the origins of the Beat Generation. Instead, my education, my informal education came from libraries and used book stores. My education took place after school hours. At night under a reading lamp that cast shadows more than it illuminated, I read about the Battle of Thermopylae and the Hamilton Burr duel; I read Flannery O'Connor and Gary Snyder while my friends talked on the phone or went to the mall. I read Hemingway, Wolfe and F. Scott. Without knowing why, I read Henry Miller and Ezra Pound who I didn't understand. Pound still confuses me. I don't know what all this means or what it's supposed to mean. I do know that I found myself in these books, in other people's words, in other people's lives. I found my voice in their language. I found my way by following them down side streets in Paris, in the Gothic South and along the California coast.
David Mitchell Cloud Atlas
Kate Atkinson Case Histories