E: You're sitting on a buss. The air outside is cold, and you're just enjoying the warmth when, suddenly, you become aware that two people behind you are talking animatedly in a language you can't understand. And not only can't you understand it, you don't know a single thin about it; you don't have any reference at all for picking out the meaning of a single word.
What would you say If I told you that the world is absolutely filled to the brim with such intrigues?
E. Everywhere! Only, they aren't people. They are designs, lettering, ceramics, liquids, temperatures...
Q: I think I see where you're going.
E: That's great! Now let me tell you why you don't notice it.
E: Because these things are not people; and we don't care as much about things as we do about people.
Q: I'm not learning new languages all the time either though...
E: Maybe not, but you should. When you meet someone from another culture, and you know just a bit about their culture; you'll gain a lot more respect, and make them happy that you took the time to learn. And crucially; you'll then be in a position to ask all the interesting questions, instead of all the dumb ones.
Q: Okay, I get that, for people, but...things?
E: So, for things, the situation is a little different but not much. Look around you. (...) I mean it Q, look around. What do you see? And now; if you knew a little more about what was around you, what would you see then?
Okay, so from where I'm sitting I can, for instance, have a look at the floor; which is made from red tiling with mortar in between. And, If I didn't care about things generally, my observations would stop there. Instead I can think about the long tradition of brickmaking, stretching at least as far back as 1700bc mesopotamia, where I read that Etemenanki, the tower of babylon was made from fired bricks. That the red in the clay most likely comes from iron, and, I suppose that a great part of the bricks are silicon.
Now, the story of the bricks are enriched, their place their has gained a new meaning, and I have gained a little more knowledge about this building; I know something about the kinds of things that compose it.
Then there is a second aspect. Such knowledge builds itself on top of itself. From being able to name things a little more carefully, I can observe some of the covariations. So, let us see; when I open a modern book I can have a look at it's fonts to see what style the printer thought the book should be set in; with reference to the content I can therefore make some crude observations.
Taken together with knowledge of colour theory and composition, the manufacture and choice of paper and typesetting; I can judge the handywork on display, which helps me judge the seriousness of the institution producing the book, making me able to make some assumptions about the editors; letting me make some assumptions about the author; which can never be sure, but only in the way that nothing is "sure."
Knowledge is a curious thing. Knowing one thing is knowing one thing, knowing two things is knowing three things.
Q: Now come one, that sounds like prophetic mumbo jumbo.
E: No, it's true. If you ask me if I can bring you milk, and I know that a have a cup, but I don't know if I have milk, then I don't know if I can bring you milk. To know the third element, if I can bring it to to you; I need to know that I have both the components.
Q. Yea, that makes sense... for milk.
E: Yes, but don't you see how that goes for anything? Don't you know how much you can tell of a country by milk? If you can drink fresh cold milk, I am pretty sure you live in a well functioning society.
Q: Now come on, that is stretching it a bit far.
E: No! Milk does not keep well, and refrigeration takes power. The organisational skills of the society needed for stable electricity, both at state level and personal level ensures a kind of wealth only found in somewhat functioning states. To in addition be able to milk cows, store and pasteurize, and bring to the story, and from there to you house; requires a network of logistics, trust, economics and knowledge that I can be quite sure that whoever drinks fresh milk lives in a well functioning society.
A little knowledge becomes a powerful thing, when you learn to connect all those bits of little knowledge to each other. And it's a multiplication thing, not an addition thing. For every new thing you learn, you learn at least three things.
Q: What can I say...
E: You don't really have to say anything; you're a litreary device...