Monday, June 18, 2007

Pursuit of Tr-ths--a question of group dynamic

"The experts never get to the end of anything. It's not only that they haven't got to the end of anything today. But they can't even picture the idea of their activities ever being complete. Perhaps they can't even wish it. Can one imagine, for instance, that man will still have a soul once he has learnt to understand it completely and manage it biologically and psychologically? And yet that is the state of things we are trying to achieve...There it is; Knowledge is an attitude, a passion. Actually an illicit attitude. For the compulsion to know is just like dipsomania, erotomania and homicidal mania in producing a character that is out of balance. It is not at all true that the scientist goes out after truth. It is out after him. It is something he suffers from. The truth is true and the fact is real without taking any notice of him. All he has is the passion for it. He is a dipsomaniac whose tipple is facts, and that leaves its mark on his character. And he doesn't care a damn whether what comes out of his discoveries is something whole, human, perfect--or indeed, what comes of them. It's all full of contradictions and passive sufferings and at the same time enormously active and energetic."
--Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities, pp 254

An earlier-written refutation in Nietzsche:

"Joy in the herd is older than joy in the Ego: and as long as the good conscience is called herd, only the bad conscience says 'I.'
[...]
'He who seeks may easily get lost himself. It is a crime to go apart and be alone' Thus speaks the herd.
The voice of the herd will still ring within you. And when you say: We have no longer the same conscience, you and I; it will be a lament and a grief. Today you still suffer from the many,O man set apart: today you still have your courage whole and your hope. But one day, solitude will make you weary, one day your pride will bend and your courage break. One day you will cry: 'I am alone!"

While working at my previous job, I sat in the great grey glass room we ate food in, talking about books (a bit), and one of the other phone folks mentioned that there was such a thing as being too smart to be happy. That people who know more than they need to know in order to get by have made their happiness so much harder to achieve. She actively avoided such opportunities to learn new things--said so explicitly there at the table over her microwaved prepackaged lunch in its machine-pleated paper tray. I tried to tell her that the less a person knew the more susceptible they were to being manipulated, that the reason for the unhappiness wasn't that one knows too much, but that everyone else knows too little. Which strikes me now as rather arrogant and elitist. It also must mean I'm in the camp that Musil describes above. The woman I talked to is happily retired, had a fine career there in the cubicles taking phone calls, joked about other people taking so much time to learn so much; is now cozy in her house with Wheel of Fortune and her one evening Michelob Light. Perhaps I do have it all wrong after all...


2 comments:

brizbrizuri said...

I doubt you would enjoy yourself with Michelob Light and Wheel of Fortune. She sounds content, which is different than happy, and she probably wouldn't know the difference, by choice.

Happiness appears in short bursts, so enjoy them when they happen. Trying to find happiness will just lead to one more thing you have to do before you think you have it. That one last thing is endlessly multiplying and always blocks the road.

Kristen said...

AAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You heretic!!!!