The answer to any puzzle worth its salt (as my Mom would have said) requires some measure of sleuthing. Its detective work, this search for answers to questions about history, about literature, about meaning. Where there are more sifted layers, there are more possible chance connections and the potential for loads more fun in the search. That book binding you spy out of the corner of your eye on the neighboring bookshelf, that card in the card catalog you thumb by unexpectedly, or that sticks to the card you think you want. And when you unstick the cards or pull out that taunting book, you can discover a whole new line of inquiry and read in an entirely different direction.
In my college days those delightfully scented cards in the file drawers of the Widener Library catalog room sent me on these journeys. Remember the card catalog? Oh tell me you remember card catalogs. We now all do these things digitally without that evocative scent of aging paper. What a loss.
It is that chance I call to mind now. A name or an event leads to an article or to an image that evokes a remembered scene from history and another name and somehow the pieces together may develop into a defensible whole. With caveats. Perhaps some new meaning in the interdisciplinary layering. “Chance is the fool’s name for fate” is the comic line that leads to many permutations in The Gay Divorcee. In research, in the truly interdisciplinary mind, in these intellectual hunts, “chance” is the magic, the inspiration, the singular answer, the moment of creation. Come along with me.