Have you noticed that the accumulation of information often changes the way you think? This happens in my brother, as his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew influences his speech patterns. It happens with me, as my understanding of hypertext influences me to think more in patterns and connections than in the past.
Have you noticed that higher education changes the sort of questions you ask? I recently noticed that I have moved from questions about the nature of life (which concern me directly) to more specific questions, which may not relate to personal life or to a quest to understand.
Notice the difference between posts on my current blog and my old site (compare). Ah, memories. One distinct one comes to mind -- it was my first large assignment, and I vividly remember reading Kafka's "Metamorphosis" late at night, on the couch in the living room at home, with one lamp on, and the yellow light and silent house adding the atmosphere of surreal nothingness to the reading experience. I was absorbed, enthralled, and entirely in love with the study of literature from then on.
I have lost the quest to really learn the deep things of the universe along the way. Have I just grown up, or have I betrayed my reason for reading?
I have done what I think is common in the generations of scholarly thought. I think this is a rule for history: Rather than supporting, refuting or responding to the old ideas of past scholars, the new generations of thinkers find new questions, and in doing so, think they are smarter than the previous generation, which did the same to their elders. This is what we in the humanities call "progress." We think it is bold to go new places where no mind has tread the gentle grass of our paradise ideas. In reality, it is rather cowardly, since we slink off to new ground and hope we don't have to admit defeat, all the while producing a new set of unanswerables for the next group to ignore.
I choose to lay aside the crust of years in the academic mindset, which sight-shortens us with little tasks so we never get to think of the big picture. I'm going back to a search for more than an interesting bit of theory, or something which makes a good paper, or helpful technique. I'm going back to digging for useful meaning.
Hold on tight. This process is not covered by the manufacturer's warrantee.