– D. E. Rogers, “Some Musings on Medical Education” (1982)
Too much, too fast: the water is liquid but might as well be solid. It is undrinkable.
Water in a less energetic state represents knowledge in Norse mythology when Odin drinks from Mimir’s well. In British history, the scholar-king James I was said “to drink indeed of the true Fountain of Learning” (Wm Sanderson, Compleat History…, 1656).
Many teachers have noted that knowledge-water can’t just be poured in:
It would be wonderful if our guardian angel could open a sort of trap-door in our head and pour in even a small part of the knowledge…
– The Liguorian magazine (1951)
The strangest of all knowledge-drinking metaphors was developed by Robert Browning in Aristophanes’ Apology (1875), based on an ancient Greek party game called kottabos. In Browning’s kottabos, you are inside a rolling ball that has two holes: one hole is called High and Right and the other Low and Wrong. Wine dribbles in through the holes as the ball turns, and if you position yourself to drink only from High and Right, then you are like Euripides. If you drink regardless of where the wine comes from, you are like Aristophanes and can:
…drink knowledge, wine-drenched every turn,
Equally favored by their opposites.
Little and Bad exist, are natural:
Then let me know them, and be twice as great
As he who only knows one phase of life!
Ordinary kottabos is simpler, requiring only that you toss your almost-empty goblet across the room at a target that does ding!
Image: Young man playing kottabos. Red-figure kylix, ca. 510 BC. Ancient Agora Museum in Athens, via Wikipedia