Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Yep. That's pollen.


Etymology: Italian, from present participle of dilettare to delight
1 : an admirer or lover of the arts
2 : a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : dabbler
synonyms see amateur

I'm content to be a dilettante. Indeed I am so happy to dip first into one topic, then another, then another. I like full-spectrum learning, a bit of this, a bit of that.

Don't misunderstand: I so admire the kind of person who is able to identify one area of interest so absorbing that they spend the rest of their lives learning and researching or practicing that one thing. The dedication of those who study piano, cooking, the history of the American civil war, neurology (etc., etc.) blows my dilettantish mind. And I benefit GREATLY from the books that get written, the records that get recorded, the cookbooks and movies made as the result of that kind of focus. In fact, specialists make my life as a dilettante easy, by doing the hard work of delving deep so I don't have to.

Jack Weatherford is one of the specialists I so admire. He has spent decades studying Ghenghis Khan and the history of the Mongolian empire. His revisionist historical biography, Ghenghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World is a fabulous book. I was so enlightened and excited when I read it a few years ago, I made this short film as a tribute.

Now I'm into his book The Mongol Queens which is all about the wives, daughters, and granddaughters of Ghenghis. It is such an incredible book! The detail with which he is able to describe that way of life makes me feel like I'm sitting inside a ger next to these incredible women, perhaps catching a buzz from drinking a bit too much fermented mare's milk, telling stories, sending prayers up to the gold light of the Eternal Blue Sky.

Mr. Weatherford's books, in fact, remind me of the great blogs Monkeys on the Roof and Ngorobob Hill House, both written by women who live in Africa, whose lives are as different from mine as can be imagined and yet with whom I have much in common in terms of how we think.

The Mongol Queens is taking me around the world and backwards in time to 1300 and making me feel like I know these people, I know that life and that time period. It is so cool! If I make a little video about it, I think Respect, sung of course by Aretha Franklin, would be the proper musical background.

This dilettante says two thumbs up. Fabulous book. Oh yeah.


Barry said...

A dancing book?

A dancing book about Genghis Khan?

Now that sounds like fun. I haven't read either of those two books, but they both seem exactly like the kind of reading I would enjoy.

Fellow dilettante that I am.

Elizabeth said...

I am a dilettante
and proud of it,sweet Jesus!!
So hard to focus on one thing when there is so much to delight one.

ellen abbott said...

Oh, me too. There is so much interesting stuff out there to learn about.

Linda Sue said...

It's that curiosity thang, darlin'...Your short film- hilarious!
So MANY books- so much to learn ! Never enough time.

Reya Mellicker said...

Love my clan of dilettantes!

The Pollinatrix said...

I too am a dilettente, and am reminded of the Tom Robbins quote: "To specialize is to brush one tooth." He then makes the distinction between people who specialize and those who embrace one thing so completely that it encompasses all other things.

I'm also reminded of something my daughter's world religions teacher said about herself recently, referring to her interest in all religions. She called herself "spiritually promiscuous."

Whitney Lee said...

I tend to focus on something for awhile before falling in love with something else and then falling in love with yet another thing. Fortunately I am able to flutter back and forth amongst all the passions I've had. Several are actually put to good use in my latest career (stay at home mom) such as cooking, reading, photography, writing, astrology, and decorating.

It's such fun to learn new things, it enables me to look at the world with new eyes.

lakeviewer said...

You are also a generalist, one who appreciates the entire spectrum of light!

Paul C said...

Khan as soul man...you convinced me doubly to read this delightful book.

C.M. Jackson said...

count me in --I think we should have a gala !!

Ronda Laveen said...

I can totally see you (and me) getting buzzed on fermented mare's milk, telling stories and sending prayers up to the golden light of the Eternal Blue Sky! Oh, yeah! I guess, even after thousands of years, time really haven't changed all that much!

Mrsupole said...

I cannot think of any better clan to be part of. It must be why I have started so many books and then just set them aside to start on a new one.

I started organizing and then found something else to occupy my time. I think this is the latest story of my life. The only thing I seem to be commited to is being married, loving the people in my life, and taking grandson to his Karate classes. I refuse to let him quit which means that I cannot quit and when he started, I asked him if he would commit to going, he said, "Yes", so I then told him that I would commit to taking him each week. It has been over three years. The only time he and I missed was when I had my shoulder surgery, but since I was again able to drive, we started back, so the saga continues.

I am not sure but I somehow think that life would be fairly boring, at least for me, if I was to only focus on one thing. It would be like trying only one type of food. Can you imagine your life if you had never tried foods that are Italian, Chinese, German, Thai, Japanese, etc. Or if we all looked the same, how boring would that be. Yeah, I love to try and do different things.

God bless.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love the idea of a dilettante gala!

And Ronda, YES. Glad I have other choices for my evening buzz, other than fermented mare's milk, but otherwise, it's the same as it ever was.