The notion that things “happen for a reason” is a powerful idea. It is also a dangerous one. The concept of “agency” is so central to our under­standing of ourselves and our world that we apply it even where there is no agency to be found.

I can tell a sauropod from a theropod and I know the difference between dark matter and dark energy, but I’m no paleon­tol­ogist or physicist. Not by a long stretch. But I do so love listening to such specialists talk about what they do. Because I’m not one of them.

A human life is punctuated by events of special signif­i­cance, which are often surrounded by rituals. The rules of the market­place are redefined in the reality distortion zone that surrounds these events.

You can learn things from reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being that you would never glean from any scien­tific tractate. And you can see things through the Hubble telescope that no amount of poetry could ever disclose.