Lawnchair Philosopher

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Where Wisdom Finds Home

August 2010
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“Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.” –Juvenal

Eyes see but light and shadow; the mind gives form. But not all forms or ideas we impose on nature belong to her; nor do all minds have wisdom. Nature’s curves and contrasts are more subtle; her steps and strides are more savvy than the common mind.

Commonly, a mind foolishly assumes one of two things. The cocky common mind assumes that it, bespectacaled by a book or two, has knowledge and knows what or whom he sees. Religious books, philosophical books, even the arguments and experiments of Science can blind.

 sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
the
doting
 
fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched
and
poked
 
thee
, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
thy
 
beauty, how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and
 
buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
gods
(but
true
 
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
rhythmic
lover
 
thou answerest
 
them only with
 
spring)

 by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

The second mistake of the common mind is that he or she is not up to the task, is too stupid, is better off leaving the important questions of life to other, more worthy thinkers and teachers.

Both of these positions–the pompous assumption of knowledge, and the cowardly assumption of incompetence–are the very antithesis of a mind in which wisdom finds a home.

Wisdom is not being clever. It is not being bookish or erudite. These qualities are useful for wisdom, provided that the assumption of knowledge does not paralyze. But the want of these qualities does not preclude that wisdom will  find a comfortable home in such a head.

Wisdom loves the open and aware mind. Neither openess nor awareness are directly dependent on ideas, though certain ideas can chase them out and down the road, can even lynch them,  leaving ignorance in their stead: a lonely home filled with leased furniture and hoarded comfort.

HE Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
(also, with the church’s protestant blessings
daughters,unscented shapeless spirited)
they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things–
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
…. the Cambridge ladies do not care, above
Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
sky lavender and cornerless, the
moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

Rather than assume widely accepted things and imposing these garments on nature, wisdom empties himself, becomes open. Wisdom watches, notices nature, and lets her suggest a question; he does not blindly assume or suppose; he does not impose prefabricated or rehearsed one-liner questions. This would assume an improper familiarity, or would suggest tawdriness .

She is not his, is not a plaything, is her own, will answer only perceptive questions given rise through clean and clear eyes. She will only answer specific questions about her, not about a class of things into which category she belongs. She is not just an example of one among many. She is always original and unique, always new.

And where she would appear to resemble another, this is not a case of her being one among  many members of a class, but rather of the self-same beautiful girl peaking from around  an arras, now here and now there, flirting playfully, trustingly. To wisdom alone does she tell her one and only secret, which wisdom will never betray. To her, he is ever faithful.

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