…What the world has always needed is more heretics and less authority.
–Louis L’Amour, The Walking Drum
Yes, that Louis L’Amour. I am quoting an author of Westerns. You gotta problem with that?
Louis was a seriously good writer, and he wrote some seriously great books. The one that tops my list is The Walking Drum, which I burbled about once. Okay, twice. I remember the heft of that book in my young middle-school hands. I remember being so enthralled that I memorized passages, and regularly recited one of them to Mars when it hung bright and red in the sky. Changed my life, that book did, and now I look at so many of the quotes I pulled from it, I realize it’s an excellent book for skeptics.
The wider my knowledge became the more I realized my ignorance. It is only the ignorant who can be positive, only the ignorant who can become fanatics, for the more I learned the more I became aware that there are shadings and relationships in all things.
In my knowledge lay not only power but freedom from fear, for generally speaking one only fears what one does not understand.
Not to mention:
…Question all things. Seek for answers, and when you find what seems to be an answer, question that, too.
Just one more:
It is a poor sort of man who is content to be spoon-fed knowledge that has been filtered through the canon of religious or political belief, and it is a poor sort of man who will permit others to dictate what he may or may not learn.
L’Amour’s hero Kerbouchard thunders across the 11th Century world kicking ass, taking names, kissing the ladies, and engaging in fiery, passionate book learning. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an author who can make scholarship look more macho and ultra damned sexy. And Kerbouchard puts all that studying to use in situations you might not necessarily expect it, especially not in an action novel, and always with a rapier wit that leaves enemies thoroughly punctured while he rides off with the woman. He’s like the MacGuyver of the medieval world, only he has better hair and social graces.
What I’m saying is, just go read the damned book, m’kay?