Recently I've been thinking about the time and effort I put into studying the Humanities. I guess I'd be considered an expert on some of man's greatest thinking, though I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. I've especially felt a connection with the writings of Aristotle, probably because of his curiosity and insight. But I think perhaps what I felt connected to was the innate sense of wonder that must have driven him to write so much on so many different topics. When I started thinking about that, I began to ask myself what happened to my own sense of wonder. It isn't gone, I've felt it at times flickering on the edge of my consciousness, but it's certainly been subdued. Certainly one of the lessons I took from St. John's was that there is more to knowledge than simply studying. My childhood exuberance for studying the scientific returned to me then, as I feel it returning now and, rather than pass it morsels or focus on the humanistic sciences like math and physics, I think I'd like to let it take in a full course meal of the wonder that we should all experience. Hopefully, while I'm doing that, I'll learn a little more about the feeling of wonder itself.
So the first step is to explore some things that really invoke my sense of wonder. Today, some videos of whale sharks! Sorry about the music in this clip, maybe mute the Coldplay. There are 4 whale sharks in captivity at the Georgia Aquarium in their 5 million gallon Ocean Voyager exhibit. Certified divers can actually set up an appointment to swim with them and also with manta rays. While their massive size (about as big as a school bus) is certainly intimidating, they are considered to be very gentle and have been known to playfully allow divers to swim with them. As a child I was very fearful of deep, open water and especially of large sea creatures. I think the memory of that fear contributes to my sense of wonder at these animals.
Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet, reaching over 40 ft. in length. Their diet primarily consists of plankton, though you can see one consuming small bait fish in the clip above. Wonder for me seems, at least at the moment, to be a sandwich (philosophically speaking) of fear, fascination, and the kind of detachment that a being so alien to my own inspires.
Anyhow, enjoy the videos.