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Curiosity is a double-edged affair. While it leads to beneficent discoveries, it can also kill the proverbial cat. One may be curious in a good and striving way, as Einstein proposed when he wrote, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.” On the other hand, one may be curious in a cloying, annoying, or destructive way. One might even be something of a curiosity, as in strange, quirky, weird—a curiouser and curiouser creature.
Eve ate the apple; Pandora opened the box. They are reviled because their curiosity led to a fall from Edenic grace; they are revered because their defiant acts, born of curiosity, led to the existence of humankind and hope. Myth, fable, history, science, philosophy, exploration, the arts are each populated by the curious of every stripe. Curiosity can be morbid. Curiosity can be innocent, as when a child asks why this, why that, why the other thing? Psychological models of curiosity can be classified as state-trait or breadth-depth. Curiosity is, moreover, a manmade vehicle roving the Gale Crater on Mars and transmitting information back to Earth, where curious scientists pore over the newfound data. As Dorothy Parker put it, “There is no cure for curiosity.”
Conjunctions:71, A Cabinet of Curiosity will gather fiction, poetry, and essays that investigate the wide spectrum of curiosity and the curious, and their consequences. From the exactingly inquisitive to the downright nosy. From the prying to the inquiring, the questing to the meddling. From explorers, archeologists, and forensic investigators to hackers, stalkers, and obsessives, the issue will examine curiosity as a gift, a burden, a catalyst for discovery, a duty, a transgression. After all, who among us lacks an appetite for the unknown? Who isn’t to some degree dying of curiosity?
And while most readers know that proverb about curiosity killing the cat, fewer may remember that “satisfaction brought it back.” This issue will explore the ways in which curiosity drives us, sometimes out of our minds, even as it revives and defines us.
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A Visit to Fredrik Ruysch’s Cabinets
Reflections on the Real Joe Dicostanzo
The Fisherman Bombadier of Norfolk Naval Base
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Fur, Bark, Feather, Leaf, Faun
The Wanting Beach
An Anatomy of Curiosity
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Days of Heaven
In the Great Hall of Bones
A Curiosity of Spies
Once More to the Beach
The Unsent Letters of Blaise and Jacqueline Pascal
Idylls of Curiosity
Father, Ether, Sea
Big Dark Hole
How Tsala Entered the Spirit World and Became a Hawk
The Empyrean Light
Why Brother Stayed Away
Waiting For Kizer