Of new roads and secret gates. A celebration of discovery, wherever you are!
Tolkein wrote “Not all those who wander are lost.” In this week’s Curiosity to Go segment, Elliot Carter and Karen Ward celebrate their curious eyes.
Not sure what you’d be getting yourself into? Check out my gallery from Season 3.
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How I Found Elliot, or My Curiosity Bread Crumbs
One of the many things I love about living in the DMV is that it’s a place people visit. Family and friends come and go with reliable regularity, providing endless opportunities to be a tourist in our own hometown.
After a while, that list of things to see can get pretty familiar, maybe a little thread-worn, so I’m always on the outlook for interesting new destinations —-
But I’ve come to understand I’m a total slacker in this regard.
Utterly eclipsed by an inquisitive young man with the tantilizing title of Chief Explorer.
This story begins with the theory of the transformative power of attention – that if you pay enough attention, things get interesting…no matter how dull it may have initially seemed. (I talked with Caetlin Benson-Allott about that power in some depth recently.)
I first came across this idea in listening to James Ward, the London-based founder of The Boring Conference….you guessed it: a day-long conference about boring things.
He traces his roots to Andy Warhol – who also famously liked boring things — and French writer George Perek who wrote “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris” for which he sat in a cafe and described everything he could see.
And then came back the next day and did it again.
And then again.
He wanted to explore what happens when nothing is happening…which is, of course, never, because once you get curious – once you start paying attention — you notice all sorts of things are going on all the time. You discover that in paying attention, you confer – or finally perceive – meaning.
….and that’s powerful.
So — I had this idea that it would be fun to find someone locally who has made an intense study of something, or who had an unusual collection of some sort, whom I might interview about having made that choice, to be curious about something truly obscure.
And that’s when I found Atlas Obscura – which calls itself “the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places”—and Elliott Carter, Chief Explorer, who writes about such places in and around DC.
Their subjects are not boring — obscure, maybe, but definitely not boring. As Elliot puts it, he focuses on “the little-known facts about the well-known places.” And what a delightful concept that is: to plumb beyond the obvious, to pay enough attention to learn something more. To explore what we call home with fresh eyes.
Pardon me while I step outside…