I like it when I have to look a word up. I also like it when I meet people who do that. It means, among other things, that we are reading challenging books that include words we don't know. It also means we like words enough to have a discussion about them. As one of my professors used to say, "Words mean things. Pay attention!" I'm not talking about pompous, self-conscious, show-offy words for their own sake, but the expanded vocabulary of an author's unique craft and vision.
Last night was my first night at my new Great Books group. I was invited in November and finally managed to make a meeting (blame the holidays). The quality of the discussion was first-rate. I was impressed by the courtesy with which the very opinionated members treated each other, while strongly disagreeing on what Borges' The Garden of Forking Paths had to say about space, time, cowardice, mazes, fiction, the human condition, and the nature of reality. It was a very positive experience, although C.S. says twice a month would be too much for him.
And I especially enjoyed the part where almost all of us admitted that we'd had to look up "pullulation" and then discussed whether "swarming" would have been a better choice by this particular translator. That's when I knew I was really onto something.