I think the only reason I would stay in research is if I could find connections between things. I mean, that’s why I like to learn things all the time. Because if I can say “oh, X is like Y”, it’s like I’m forging a new pathway in my brain between X and Y, and to me, that’s a fundamental contribution to human understanding, on par with learning all there is to know about X. I wrote my grad school applications on this, basically, but now I find it even more true, especially after reading 2/3 of Aji and McEliece’s paper on the Generalized Distributive Law. They basically take 10 different algorithms from information theory, artificial intelligence, etc, and show that they are all doing the same thing. It’s pretty amazing, honestly.
That’s not to say that reinventing the wheel is a bad thing — each wheel gives new insight into the means of locomotion. But showing that all wheels are somehow equivalent or the same to me says something really profound. It’s probably why I like theater so much — if you can tell a story to which people can relate, it’s the same as saying “this story is universal in some sense.” I don’t think it’s the same as Great Truths. Maybe these are Little Truths instead.
Harold Clurman might call it a spine for my life. Such as it is at present.