Happy Superhero Friday! This week we welcome back the Mad Scientist and guarantee we'll either better your life or waste your time, but we sincerely hope to do both. We've got more on the Nintendo Switch, we'll dive into some music and gadgets of the week, and we'll also talk about variety.

In This Episode

  • The Mad Scientist returrrrnsss!
  • More about Nintendo Switch
  • …of the Weeks!
  • Variety is the spice of life
  • Bad Lip Reading: The Force Awakens

More of the Same

You've heard the adage, “variety is the spice of life”? Because Brian brings it up and expresses his opinion on the matter, I thought it applicable to dive a little bit into the adage. Idioms are funny beasts; they become so much a part of our language, unfamiliar to foreigners or even untraceable in certain cases, that we don't often know where they come from or why they became so popular. This idiom comes from a poem called The Task by William Cowper. (If you're super interested, you can read the whole thing here.) The idealism extends back much further, but the phrase it this form is mostly attributed to William Cowper.

Variety’s the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavour.

There is another interesting line shortly after this one, which says: “We have run through every change that fancy…and, studious of mutation still, discard a real elegance, a little used, for monstrous novelty and strange disguise.” Weeding through the 19th Century verbiage, I interpret this quite simply; in our pursuit of spice, we discard things that are truly pleasing for something that is not so familiar.

I'm terrible at trying new things. I love the things that are familiar and that I can rely on; after some reflection, I believe this is attributed to being disappointed by new things. I go back to what I know because even if it isn't a “real elegance”, it is trusted and I know what I'm getting. With new things, unfamiliar things, I don't know what I'm getting. For me, variety is less important than trusting what I'm getting.

That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a healthy variety! Without people who take risks on new things, we would not have much of an economy, much less a society which innovates itself into the future. What I love about Cowper's poem, however, is that he shows us the good and bad of variety all in a couple lines. Variety's the very spice of life, but don't shed something that is familiar just because it isn't a novelty anymore.

There's a lesson for me in this, too. Reading between the lines rather than explicitly stated in Cowper's poem, I believe he's trying to draw attention to a balance and discernment between what is new and what is familiar. Hold onto what is elegant, but the spice of life can be found in variety.


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