I wonder how many web searches I’ve undertaken in my life. A million? Nowadays we live our lives through searches. Is there a question you need answered? A product you need to find? Simply type in a word or two into the Google searchbox and off you go. Pages and pages of potential answers are only a click away.But this instantaneous “searching” is not really what the search is all about. In fact, our technological capabilities to search and find anything and everything in just a few easy steps has quite possibly damaged the search as it exists in modern culture. Increasingly, we are losing our capacity to think critically, to mull over a question without ready access to its answer. The Search goes deeper than the zeros and ones of Google-brand fact transaction, however. At its heart, the search is a way of being. It is a state of wonderment, curiosity, and awareness of something other. It requires the tension of the unknown and the unease of the unknowable. It inspires both deep and broad thinking, and a commitment to making connections where ideas, postulates, and observations allow.
The Search is also about finding connections with other people. Ironically, we are ever more isolated in our hyper-connected digital society. We yearn for the physical presence and emotional resonance of our fellow man, whose camaraderie we long for above all else. As George Steiner writes in Real Presences, “we are monads haunted by communion.”
The Search is about filling these absences, feeling the specter of otherness, finding communion and connection with others on the same journey. If this blog could be about anything, I would hope it would be about this. I’m not any farther on the journey than anyone else, but none of us are going to get anywhere without dialogue.
To be human is to long for understanding. We all want to “be onto something,” as Walker Percy writes of the search. To not be onto something is to be mired in despair; stuck in the mindless and mundane of the “one-click” universe of Google. Let’s be done with that. Let’s rediscover what we’re really looking for.