Their Quote, My Quote
I’m sure that many of you are like me and have a handy application on your computer screen that shows you what people are “tweeting” through Twitter and what they are posting on their Facebook pages, or other social media. It can admittedly become a sort of background noise of people’s thoughts and actions. Often I find myself oblivious to what is being said because I can’t focus on so many different fragments of information. Other times I find myself pulled in by what people are saying.
For example, lately I’ve found it interesting to watch Senator John McCain’s tweets as he once again goes through a daily list of “top 10 earmarks” in current budget legislation. Wow, it is simply eye-popping to see how much money the US government throws in every possible direction for any little pet project the politicians can think of. Though each project may seem noble in it’s own little way, it all adds up to million upon millions of dollars in unnecessary spending, using tax money that we don’t have. But as much as people seem to hate the idea of reckless spending by the government, nobody in charge seems to want to end it.
At other times I’ll see people quote song lyrics, or popular sayings, etc. One of my Facebook friends criticized all the lyric quoting this week, saying that you should only quote lyrics that you wrote yourself. Well, if you think some song lyrics nicely express what you’re feeling, then go ahead, quote them. I won’t mind. I might not make the connection to your own life, but I don’t mind. Today I saw this particular quote scroll across my screen:
“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.” Robert Anton Wilson
It made me think for a few seconds. Hmm. Interesting idea. And then I thought, “Who is this Robert Wilson person anyway?” I looked him up and it turns out he is the typical author / philosopher / mystic / dead guy. I see that he is known for this basic goal in life (in his own words):
“My goal is to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.”
Let me try to translate that quote by dumbing it down to my own very basic, non-philosophical level. After all, when it comes to philosophy, I rank right up there with somebody like…oh…Beaker from the Muppet Show:
Basically, Robert Anton Wilson was saying, “My goal is to see that nobody knows anything.”
I told you, I’m not a very smart person. But I do, however, believe that it is possible to actually know things. I, for one, believe there is such a thing as “truth” and that it can ultimately be found, from the smallest, most trite bit of information, to doctrine on grand scales. Once you find the truth, either by study or by accident, then why live with a belief that you’d be more intelligent by throwing it out the window so you can consider other possibilities?
[Beaker] “Wow, I just ate a piece of this chocolate cake and I love it!”
[Robert] “What? But how do you know?”
[Beaker] “Because I put it in my mouth, and I liked it…”
[Robert] “Wait! You have simply convinced yourself that you love it, but by so doing, you’ve ignored the possibility that you may hate it.”
[Beaker] “Really? I hadn’t considered that.” [picks up remaining cake and throws it out the window]
[Robert] “Why did you do that?”
[Beaker] “You said I might possibly hate the cake.”
[Robert] “But I wanted a piece! You know…so I could consider the possibilities of liking or not liking it. It could take several pieces for me to consider the ways I might feel about that cake! Now I don’t have the chance to even taste it!”
[Beaker] “Well, you’re no better or worse off anyway, since you already don’t know if you like it or not.”
[Robert] “Ah, very true, Beaker. I’m glad you pointed that out. I don’t know as much now as I didn’t know then, and that’s refreshing.”
[Beaker] “Glad to be of service.”
No offense to fans of Robert Wilson, or to fans of Beaker, but I think the quote that flashed across my screen today is both philosophically impressive, and completely insane. It’s funny when the two go hand-in-hand. It’s fun to be a great thinker, I suppose, and even more fun to call oneself a “mystic” because it is…oh…so mystical. But here is my rebuttal quote, from a non-mystic, mainstream idiot:
“One who is wise not only seeks intelligence, but lives in a constant pursuit of truth, willingly putting aside personal prejudice, pride, and preference when discovery delivers a taste of divine truth. To wander endlessly through the ever varying philosophies and foibles of man without desiring to learn and recognize truth is not wisdom, but merely an entertaining journey where one lives and dies not having known anything at all.”
OK, I used too many words for it to be a good quote. Phooey! That won’t even fit in a twitter post! Maybe I could have said it better if I’d written it as song lyrics?