When she was half-a-dozen years younger, Louisa had been overheard to begin a conversation with her brother one day, by saying “Tom, I wonder-” upon which Mr. Gradgrind, who was the person overhearing, stepped forth into the light, and said, “Louisa, never wonder!”
Herein lay the spring of the mechanical art and mystery of educating the reason without stopping to the cultivation of the sentiments and affections. Never wonder.
Hard Times, Chapter 8, by Charles Dickens.
The sense of wonder is integral not only to the human experience, but also to human endeavour, whether it’s our ancient ancestors looking at the night sky and crafting the gods, tribes like the Anasazi building temples in honour of the sun, or Star Trek influencing Michio Kaku to build an atom smasher in his parents’ garage, pre-empting an illustrious career in physics. As we lurch forward towards a technological singularity and (perhaps) beyond, our sense of wonder and awe is something we should neither forget nor let go of; to do so may result in hubris and imaginative blindness. Luckily, our sense of wonder also seems irrepressible and unquenchable. “I have such unmanageable thoughts,” says Dickens’ Louisa, always struggling to overcome her father’s forced insipidness, “that they will wonder.”