Beyond its propensity for killing cats, curiosity has other virtues, as well — namely, in that, by placing our trust in it, we’re led effortlessly to our respective vocations and become the people we’re meant to be.
Does that idea sound Emersonian to you? Shut up, it is.
Writing on education, Ralph Waldo Emerson recounts the anecdote of Sir Charles Fellowes. (Note that the bolded text is emboldened by me — but you would’ve emboldened it, too, so shut up again.)
In London, in a private company, I became acquainted with a gentleman, Sir Charles Fellowes, who, being at Xanthos, in the Aegean Sea, had seen a Turk point with his staff to some carved work on the corner of a stone almost buried in the soil. Fellowes scraped away the dirt, was struck with the beauty of the sculptured ornaments, and, looking about him, observed; more blocks and fragments like this. He returned to the spot, procured laborers and uncovered many blocks. He went back to England, bought a Greek grammar and learned the language; he read history and studied, ancient art to explain his stones; he interested Gibson the sculptor; he invoked the assistance of the English Government; he called in the succor of Sir Humphry Davy to analyze the pigments; of experts in coins, of scholars and connoisseurs; and at last: in his third visit brought home to England such statues and marble reliefs and such careful plans that he was able to reconstruct, in the British Museum where it now stands, the perfect model of the Ionic trophy-monument, fifty years older than the Parthenon of Athens, and which had been destroyed by earthquakes, then by iconoclast Christians, then by savage Turks. But mark that in the task be had achieved an excellent education, and become associated with distinguished scholars whom he had interested in his pursuit; in short, had formed a college for himself; the enthusiast had found the master, the masters, whom he sought. Always genius seeks genius, desires nothing so much as to be a pupil and to find those who can lend it aid to perfect itself.
While much of it is used to store and transmit pornographic images, the internet is also a useful medium for carrying out very quickly the sorts of research Sir Charles Fellowes conducted over a span of years. One only needs to begin with a question — such as that one asked by Fellowes about the sculptured ornaments he found in Xanthos (the modern village of Kınık in northeastern Turkey).
Nor does the question need to be of any great significance; it can, for example, concern the whereabouts of former major-league infielder Luis Maza.
Maza, if you’ll remember, played a handful of games for the Dodgers in 2008. I, personally, hadn’t come across his name until today, whilst looking at the batting leaders of the Venezuelan Winter League.
Maza’s MLB.com player page contains no information regarding 2011 — nor do his pages at Baseball Reference or FanGraphs. However, his Wikipedia page reveals that he spent the 2011 season in Italy, playing for BBC Montepaschi Grosseto.
Already, we have asked and answered a couple questions, which has led to a couple-few more questions — questions like, What does the Montepaschi in BBC Montepaschi Grosseto stand for? and Where is Grosseto? and How many teams are there in the Italian Baseball League? and Some Italian teams have sponsor names in the name of the club; is that common?
We are, in short, Internetting — something that people do all the time, probably, but to which I’m assigning the name internetting, both for (a) the sake of convenience and also so that (b) the name Carson Cistulli might find its way into the Internet Hall of Fame, i.e. a real thing.
Continuing down the electronic path started by Luis Maza, we find — in answer to one of our questions above — that Montepaschi is short for Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which actually turns out to be the oldest surviving bank in the world, founded in 1472 as something called “a mount of piety.”
What’s a mount of piety? I don’t know. However, the inernet assuredly does — and it’s not as dirty as you were probably hoping. In fact, it (i.e. a mount of piety) was a sort of pawnbroking situation that started in the 15th century by the Catholic Church as a reform against money lending. It was, according to Wikipedia, “organized and operated by Christians and offered financial loans at a moderate interest to those in need. The organizing principle, based on the benefit of the borrower and not the profit of the lender, was viewed as a lesser evil than money lending.”
As you’ll likely know already, not every question is a terrific one — nor are the answers, even to good questions, always particularly interesting. For example, I took some time to pursue the question of Italian teams and their attendant sponsorships. Almost all of them are dull: one’s a trucking company; another, a retail bank; a third, another sort of banking.
The Nettuno Baseball Club’s sponsor is Danesi Caffe — which, that’s not particularly thrilling. What’s more interesting is that searching for Danesi Coffee brings you to Marcel Danesi (not related) — who is, apparently, a noted voice in the field of semiotics (i.e. the study of signs in culture) and a professor at the University of Toronto. Danesi’s the author of, for example, Of Cigarettes, High Heels, and Other Interesting Things: An Introduction to Semiotics, a book that I’d very much care to read, and which you, the reader, can peruse below: