My appetite for knowledge has been driven by an incapacity to be normal, and a constant injunction to be so. I tried to learn, using books and my brain, how to be normal. The more I tried, the more I failed. I skipped from country to country, language to language, discipline to discipline, looking for that common ground of normality.
I learned how to morph into various cultural norms, but found no normal. Instead, the bookshop and the library became like massage parlours: an intellectual stretching exercise, increasing my flexibility, rather than revealing any common truth. This may not be just a matter of my personal fabric, but the common experience of our generation.