The Path to Sagedom

Maria Bustillos talks wisdom.

Anybody who supposes himself wise is already demonstrating the reverse. Therefore the cleverest, most beneficial advice must always come disguised as something else. Because who can ever really believe that he knows better?

This is wrong. There is a path to sagedom. There has to be. We can see the trails. The sages left trails. Wise old people leave trails.

I dunno. At a glance, she looks like she at least made it out of crippling pride and petulance. I hope to. I gotta try. It is going to involve more shutting up which is hard for me because I like the sound of my own voice.

So how about this instead:
Anyone who supposes himself wise may become so despite himself.

It’s really something I need to be true. I don’t trust people who believe what they need to be instead of what is. I don’t know if you should either. But I can be foolish enough to offer my advice.

By the way, I really identified with this passage.

“Why are you doing this? Why are you interested in it?”

The speeding train of my babbling was here forced to make the sudden acquaintance of a brick wall. I realized at once that this was in no way a bullshittable question. Blood pounded in my ears. This guy! Clearly didn’t like me, had never liked me, why would he? Ugh! This cold fish, this Blifil! Okay then think fast, answer the question. Why are you doing this?

You know when you are in a car accident or something and time is moving so very, very slowly, and you have time to think a million thoughts, it was like this; something shifted so deep in my head, a subtle lever barely touched and I realized that this wasn’t an attack, but a most serious question, indeed the only really Platonic question I would ever be asked by a teacher, devoid of performance or convention or ego or cant or anything but itself. Please understand that in my ignorance I flew straight past the significance of this event, even as my opinion of Van Luchene underwent an instantaneous reversal. What I’d thought of all year as coldness I now dimly understood as gravity in the service of a higher purpose. This was a very damn good question, I thought. In fact it was the question.

Stopping the tide of my hoped-for eloquence. A child, wildly overindulged, told far too often that she was so smart, persuaded, sure, that no door was or would ever be closed (thank you, I am very grateful) but encouraged also to suppose that excitement and pleasure in ideas was enough in itself, a child, in love with the sound of her own voice. Books, ideas like a whirl of confetti, purposeless, ornamental, without flavor or sustenance, like plastic fruit.

Supposing herself wise. Or pre-wise, I thought probably. Among those, I believe, who also thought themselves wise. And that is just what Plato is not about; he is about making yourself completely transparent so that the truth has a way in (and out). It’s the least showy person, perhaps, who quite often has the most to say to us. You only have to know to listen.

What the hell was I going to say? This silence had been going on for an alarmingly long time. Many seconds, an eternity. I must speak. And a sudden joy overtook me, for I knew I was about to tell the truth, equally devoid for once of performance, ego or cant, for almost the first time, maybe, in that tiny little life of the mind. A staggering epiphany.

“I don’t know.”

I want to be a sage.  It is not a well defined career path. I seek wisdom. I’ll settle with wit. Both are elusive enough that you just gotta be happy when they visit.

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