Wistawa Szymborska, in her 1996 Nobel Laureate acceptance talk spoke of the people in the world whom inspiration visits. Though these people are blessed, inspiration has little to do with luck. She speaks of the how inspiration is born from a continuous “ I don’t know.”
Readers are in a continuous state of I don’t know; they are always seeking an understanding of characters who often are very different from themselves. One measure of a good reader is how they strive to know what they don’t yet know. Readers are interested in going way beyond the plot line which is a place to begin to know what happened but which is never an end point. What happened needs to be followed with Who are these characters, how do I understand them?
Good readers have questing spirits. They are not content with knowing only what they know. They are not afraid to inhabit their restless, questing state of mind. A story is less about what happened than the desire to know and maybe even love characters who are so different.
Children are blessed with a perpetual I don’t know but all too often they lose this precious quality and as Szymborska notes, many people, all too often, replace it with I don’t want to find out anything else, since that might diminish the force of their arguments. As Szymborska says “ I value the little phrase “ I don’t know.” Imagine, if Isaac Newton had never said to himself, I don’t know.