Knowledge is a good thing—of course it is. I’m all for spreading knowledge. Hell, I’ve been a teacher, and a tutor, and a writer of informative articles in which I barely made anything up.
And yet...maybe...not knowing can have its value as well....
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
Guess I can be somewhat of a contrarian—that’s kinda the opposite of a chameleon—in blue surroundings, I turn red—not so much politically—at least not in the current “red states” and “blue states” sense—though, admittedly, back in the late ‘80’s when I was at Evergreen State College—one of our nation’s most celebrated granola schools, with alumni including Matt Groening, Lynda Barry, and the founders of both Sub-Pop and the riot grrrl thing—prevailing local winds of academic Marxism and acid-burnt utopianism did blow me away from the far left...though the icy gusts of ReaganBushism then blanketing the country certainly prevented any serious drift toward the right....
Good and bad, I defined these terms so clear, no doubt, somehow...
But here I’m more concerned with that sticky “spiritual” stuff that people I hang out with either get all gooey about or have complete and utter contempt for. When I’m kicking back with the atheistic academic crowd—to the extent that people on the long march toward tenure ever “kick back”—I tend to be much more likely to indulge in the mysteries of cosmic consciousness, life after death, and the possibility of some kind of something for which the big G could be a workable metaphor. If I really wanna get antisocial, I’ll argue that to negate takes as much a leap of faith as to believe, so that atheism’s really just another religion, and that, anyway, if absolutely forced to choose, I’d probably trust the sages of the ages before the likes of Derrida and Foucault....
The difference between theism and nontheism is not whether one does or does not believe in God....Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us....Nontheism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves.
Of course, when hanging in the yoga crowd—to the extent that one can “hang” with people who pay such careful attention to their posture—my perspective changes...especially when people start talking about that new age crap—fake tribal bullshit, self serving evocations of karma, positive affirmations with all the substance of green jello....When people ask my sign—and won’t let me change the subject—I say “I’m a capricorn,” to which the answer is inevitably “just as I thought,” to which I reply “actually I’m a libra,” eliciting an “okay, I knew you were either a libra or a capricorn,” but... “I’m really a virgo,” “that explains it...,” “no it doesn’t, because I’m a scorpio,” “of course!” and so on....Then, who can blame them for failing to guess that I was born under the sign of Charlie the Three Toed Sloth?
If they had a king of fools then I would wear that crown
and you could all die laughing because I’ll wear it proudly.
I was on a yoga retreat where we did these writing exercises, which were then shared with the group...one of them with a prompt of something like “what surprises you at this point in your life” and, after a couple of days of wondering if there was truly a place for a yoga cynic in such mellow touchy-feely environs, I went off on the whole group: “I’m surprised I’m here. I don’t believe in crap. I hate that all that new age shit. I hate positive attitudes. I hate people who have positive attitudes. I hate people who believe...” for twelve minutes. Hell, it wouldn’t be the first time I had to eat lunch alone. But get this: people liked it. Told me they appreciated my honesty and sense of humor. Hugged me and shit. What’s a contrarian to do?