And what does this mean for the habits of mind we cultivate? I return often to the ideas of Jack Miles in this essay—also about generalists and specialists, with a key useful heuristic: that specialists tend to embody all the disposition of farmers, while generalists tend to embody the virtues of hunters. Both are necessary, and both need each other. The careful tending to a field whose needs are more or less known, protected, and nurtured further, on the one hand. And the more landscape-crossing, round-the-next-bend pursuit of the not yet known and its promised nourishment, on the other.
I want students to try out and value both operative modes, no matter where their own career paths take them. Knowing that others are also asking valuable questions in different disciplinary ways ideally breeds humility: a sense that what one has to offer could be enriched when conjoined in conversation with others whose expertise may not be immediately legible from within a silo.
And not just humility: I want students in engineering to know that their practices can be both private and public, that their status as citizens can be catalyzed through making things.
The bicycle is not only noble in relation to body rhythms: it is also generous to thought. For anyone with a tendency to digress, the sinuous company of the handlebars is perfect. When ideas are gliding smoothly along in straight lines, the two wheels of the bicycle carry both rider and ideas in tandem. And when some stray thought afflicts the cyclist and blocks the natural flow of his mind, he only has to find a steep slope and let gravity and the wind work their redemptive alchemy.
In 1979, she sought haven at her aunt Dorothy’s flat in Bournemouth, where again she looked for help from spiritualists – this time Charismatics and Pentecostalists – before finally finding her own spiritual truth in the Bible itself, especially the New Testament, the first book she was able to read as her sight began slowly to return, albeit imperfectly.
Moving into the Bournemouth house in 1980, she completed the obliteration of the person she had been, consigning an unpublished novel to the garden incinerator, along with a priceless collection of Oriental treasures, once her inspiration – all these were false gods to be destroyed. That October, she travelled to Jerusalem and was baptised near the river Jordan.
She continued to live in the same house until last summer, when she moved to a flat overlooking the sea after selling, giving away or destroying most of her possessions.