There’s a very nice piece at the Toronto Star, where columnist Heather Mallick offers a number of lighthearted reasons to study the liberal arts, and why in fact that is an enormously practical action. At the same time, she has a serious point:
I will give you the mental and emotional weapons to cope with the 80 years after you graduate. It won’t be easy to build your personal arsenal for a surreal century that will see even more violent change than the last one which positively heaved with trauma.
Of course, this is also reminiscent of another Canadian, the Prof’s hero Northrop Frye, who argues that the study of literature is a way to educate the imagination (Hey! That’s a good idea for a blog!), which is our most essential tool as we go through the weirdnesses of our lives. The humanities are aptly named — they make us more fully human, in that they put us in any situation we could have imagined, offer us the chance to imagine how we might perform in those situations ourselves, and play to one of our greatest strengths — adaptability.
Mallick’s piece is in that tradition, even in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion, and it’s worth reading.