This is an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to someone at some point:

Once, during a lecture of our section of the honors seminar (16 or so people), Dr. M [a philosophy professor who eventually became my advisor, abbreviated] put his briefcase down on the desk, and said, "What if I had all the answers, and they were all in here? Would you want to have a look?" We all looked up, not sure if the question was rhetorical. He indicated that he really wanted a show of hands, and nearly everyone's hand went up.

With a somewhat wicked hint of enthusiasm, he said, "Really? You would really want to risk being wrong about everything? Because, that's the trade off. Knowing the truth means sacrificing your illusions. The truth could cost you everything you think you understand about your own existence, and the world as you know it. Your way of life, your reasons for living the way you do, or living at all, could be horribly wrong. Your God… your sense of right and wrong… your whole perspective… it's all up in air. That's what really understanding the truth can cost you." He looked around the room, but I swear I felt like he was talking directly to me, because I got it. I really got it. "You've gotten by this long without it," he said, speaking in a slightly more subdued voice. "Do you really need it?" There was a brief pause, and then, more soberly, he asked, "Now, really… who wants to know?"

Me and a guy named Dave St. John, who became one of my best friends, were the only ones who raised our hands. And, we meant it. We both had that thing that makes us mutants. We looked at the world, and we just needed to know. We needed to understand, no matter how awful that might be. We didn't have that reflexive desire to accept the simplest solution to a complex problem, or to turn to some higher authority (social or otherwise) to define it all. We couldn't desensitize the way most people do, but we couldn't look away. We needed to find the answers. (Dave managed to be a lot more chipper about all of that than I did. I have no idea how.)

In any case, we put up our hands, and Dr. M looked at both of us in amusement. He smiled, and with a slight shake of his head he said, "You freaks… what the hell's the matter with you?" There was laughter and whatnot, but what's important is that the three of us were laughing. We shared a perspective that has potentially horrible implications, and we saw the humor in how beautiful and awful it was to be that way. We saw that, for some crazy reason, we didn't want to be otherwise. We all saw it, and we laughed at it.

We got the joke.

It's not surprising that I got close to both of them, because at that moment, I stumbled into something I honestly hadn't found until then. Something I wouldn't find romantically for a couple more years…

I'm not going to commentt further on this. It just ties into some things I've been thinking about.

3 Comments
  1. Saneyo_Orewadare 10 years ago

    That's, in many ways, an awesome thing. Mind if I snag it and save it somewhere?

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  2. thebadkitty 10 years ago

    I do not mind at all.

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  3. rservice 10 years ago

    Good words, kitty,

    I have come to believe strongly in the advice, "Know that you don't know".  Sometimes I don't know why people do things that annoy me, but I can excuse them and lighten my own load of resentment.  Other times I don't even know what it is that is bothering me and why I get in a bad mood, but there, again I am finding that I don't really need to know, I can move ahead anyway, and, of course, the bad feelings don't stay forever. 

    Anyway, I see the trap of having to know everything… I might still like to, but it is okay if I don't because even when I "know" something is wrong, I am powerless to make it right all the time.  The weight of the past and the weight of the future are too much for me to bear.

    Is that along the lines of what you are experiencing?

    John

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