I am a self-professed seeker of knowledge. I believe that knowledge is the path through which one can face the world and not just learn a variety of new things. Knowledge traffics in facts and ideas, but it also, as does experience, offers perspective. Ignorance breeds fear, anger, hate, and desire, and these operate in vicious cycles that find their end often only in catastrophe and death. I am not going to say that knowledge wipes out these demons; it does not. I believe fear, anger, hate, and desire are mental as well as emotional states, and the heart is not easily swayed to come to knowledge that is constructive rather than destructive. But knowledge does wield them mighty blows, often bringing them to their knees. But too much knowledge can be, and quite often is, a bad and even terrifying thing.
I remember when I fell in love with literature and became its betrothed, if you will, along with that of art, philosophy, and religion. Learning filled me; the knowledge passed down to me in the many courses I took in these subjects as an undergraduate and in graduate school was endless and ceaselessly fascinated me. In those illusion-filled days of my youth, of my young adulthood, I savored my time in the ivory tower, never actually knowing I was in such a place. And this carried over into my time as an adjunct professor not too long after I finished my studies. But all these years later I feel like I have sucked up so much knowledge and it has gotten me absolutely nowhere; this is the burden I live with, knowing that my excess of knowledge has not been as beneficial to me, or others, as one would naturally think it would be.
Certain knowledge is not for the faint of heart, that much is true; that’s why ignorance is oft said to be bliss, and in many ways, many times, I wholeheartedly agree. For me, any knowledge I continue to learn seems utterly purposeless, without goal, meaning, or value. There is no constant, constructive outlet for what I know, and that is deeply disconcerting and often debilitating to me. And yes, that is my problem, my fault, but I have seen how you cannot force someone to think or learn. As a professor I have seen the countless faces staring blankly at me with utter disinterest and cluelessness, and as much as it would be nice to return to that life again, it would do more harm than good to my psyche. And yes, I know there are other ways to spread the knowledge I have acquired, but at this time I do not have the mental and emotional strength to go down any of those seemingly more productive roads.
Alongside realizing and being terrified by the fact that all this knowledge I have consumed has become ultimately worthless to me, all new knowledge I gather has no bloom, no sheen, for me, and so much of the knowledge I have come to in the last several years (thanks especially to my reading in history and politics) has truly disillusioned me as to the nature and purpose, even the value, of the human race, society, and culture, and has left me increasingly angry with and fearful of not only those who pedal the deliberately tangled ideas and lies behind these constructs for the sake of nothing more than excessive wealth and power but also those who thoughtlessly buy into them and keep the status quo in place, as rigid, decaying, and corrupt as it is. I, along with the majority of the masses, have become nothing more than a mindless consumer. Though I devour knowledge and it may not be something necessarily disposable, it is an act of consumption just the same, and I am just as guilty as the rest of the public.
As one can see, after more than twenty years of searching for truth and knowledge that will bring me enlightenment, more so, security as a human in this chaos we call the world, I have discovered that too much knowledge can be a negative and lead to a troubled mental and emotional state. It can lead to the starkest of disillusionment, a feeling of grave hopelessness and despair, powerlessness, and fear for one’s own fate and that of the world, the latter in the shape of the balance of power shifting toward control by those who proudly profess in word and deed, overt or otherwise, the corrosive, violent, and infectious fundamentalist beliefs of every political, religious, racial, and socioeconomic stripe that have led to this tipping point in human history.
I have also discovered, as of late, that when the facts are presented in great detail to people this will not bring them to an epiphany wherein they see they have been led astray and made to believe in a labyrinth of falsehoods. People are so desperate to believe that those in positions of authority are looking out for their welfare that they refuse to accept that they have been done wrong, that those in power have concern only for themselves and for their own immediate survival, primarily politically and economically speaking. They cannot see that the instinct toward self-preservation is so strong in the beast that humans fundamentally are that they have become blind to the fact that they are being left out in the cold to suffer and die, that they have become the sacrifice in the game played by the political elites and the one percent and corporations that own these politicians, who, in their own way, are slaves, corrupt and yet powerless against the wealth that buys and sells them as those who possess it see fit, when it serves their interests and furthers their own ends and bottom lines. In this instance, for those crippled by fear, anger, hate, and desire, knowledge is futile, a truth that has led to my own disillusion that knowledge has its limits in terms of what it can do and achieve.
Humankind is in charge of its path, of its redemption, and if one does not have the fortitude to see reason and grasp the knowledge put before them as truth and as a means to reconfigure and reform their vision of the world, leading them to a better life, then there is nothing another can really do about it. It is the same with those who are willfully, arrogantly ignorant; these individuals can only save themselves. They must move toward the fire alone; the flames and the light cast by them will always be there in the darkness, these individuals just have to want to enter the fire and be forged anew in the crucible of truth and knowledge, the dross of ignorance and its ugly handmaidens burned away.