Knowledge: The Nintendo argument
As every old hippy knows – everything in the universe is connected… from the smallest grain of sand to the impossible dimensions of a galaxy.
You have been born into this universe and the more you know about it the better you can understand it, thus laying the foundations for a solid world view and a profound belief system. You see, whether you like it or not, you’ve been thrown into a cosmic computer game called life, and the only way to navigate the game is what we call knowledge. Knowledge is a mirror. Inside your mind you hold accurate reflections of the way the outside world works. It’s like the guy from prison break… on his body he had the plans of the prison tattooed. Knowledge is to have the engineering plans of things in the outer world – inside your brain. But let’s not get all-epistemological; let’s get back to the Nintendo argument.
That life is like a huge game of Mario world is clear. You have to navigate through zillions of levels, find the bonuses – the money, the keys, the extra health, avoid the baddies, and avoid death; it’s obvious… and it’s probably obvious to most people that knowledge is the best way to navigate through the game. But where we would differ is the type of knowledge. As far as I’m concerned, there can never be a replacement for a traditional education: science, philosophy, history etc… and if you’re looking to improve your life, your job and your relationships… forget the self help books and false gurus… get yourself 10 or so seminal books on the most important subjects… and get reading. The reason is simple: the greater your knowledge base – the more you begin to see how all the constituent parts interlink; the more you understand the bigger picture. The better you navigate the game.
More and more people only study, or have an interest in, or don’t necessarily have an interest in but are forced to study because of their work… one specialization. I have had occasion to meet a number of doctors in recent years, in fact professionals from a variety of fields, and I have to say… I’m quite amazed by their lack of knowledge in all areas from geography to history, science to current affairs. It seems to me, we are creating a new elite of professional robots – programmed to carry out one specialist role in society but to know very little else.
This is a disadvantage. In your day-to-day life, there are innumerable applications both of practical knowledge – such as the understanding of engines, wounds or social psychology – and more obscure branches such as paleontology or geology. Think about someone who works in marketing or advertising who needs to think up a slogan for a company called Everest. The person of little knowledge is only going to think of one association – the physical mountain. A knowledgeable individual, might jump to the creation of the Himalayas in geological terms 24 million years ago, or the role of Everest in Tibetan mythology (in Tibetan it’s called mother universe), the Victorian cartographer George Everest, or maybe even Everest – the industry standard programme for listing all hardware on a computer. The man of knowledge has a greater number of associations and sources of inspiration
The world for a person with little knowledge is a simple place – like a child’s drawing of a landscape: one tree, sun, sky, and mountain; the more information you gain, the more detail gets added to the picture until what you’re looking at is a complex work of art.
So, where do you start if you’re looking for of the merits of a classical education? Well, one thing for sure is that you don’t jump straight into complex academic works. You take well-known works that give an entertaining, general overview of a subject. A good example of this would be Bill Bryson’s – A short history of nearly everything. This is a great work of popular science that explains the history of our universe and the history of science… a great book. The choice of book is critical… get the wrong book and you’ll end up bored, discouraged, and it could push you off the learning path for a long time.
And don’t forget that every single subject can teach you something whether it’s woodwork, cosmology, linguistics or developmental psychology; leave no stone unturned in your quest to discover everything about the world. You must see your existing knowledge as one of those medieval maps filled with large, uncharted stretches of territories – blank spaces, and gross inaccuracies. As you uncover the workings of everything from quarks to black holes, the intricacies of the human mind to ancient China, you enter and uncover new territories. As you explore the subject further and read about new discoveries, you rechart coastlines more accurately than before.
Of course, once you’ve got a good general view you start to specialize more. And this really is the heart of the matter… you see I, and Vocatic, deeply believe in specialist training. The knowledge a doctor is worthy of enormous respect. But, specialists should not abandon their classical education, because if you can combine both and be a man or woman of knowledge, as a well as a specialist – you will be a truly remarkable person.
So, to conclude, I urge you to explore the world through knowledge. It will increase the depth of your personality and enrich your appreciation of life. You will even be more attractive to others. If you feel that your life is somehow a little mediocre and that you aren’t where you want to be… get those books out and resolve to learn. There’s only three ways out of a shit life, my friends – a coffin, a lottery ticket, or an education.
Grain: a very very small amount of something. In terms of sand… one grain. Un grano.
Seminal: If you write the seminal text book on gothic art you’ve written the most well known and the best one.
Interlink: another way of saying ‘link.’ Vincular.
I’m quite amazed: ‘quite’ here means a little less than ‘very’. But more than normal. ‘Asombrado’ means ‘amazed.’
Overview: un resumen. A perspective which allows you to see all of something quickly.
Critical: Very important.
Woodwork: the art of creating things from wood. A table, for example.
Leave no stone unturned: to be very thorough. Esmero.
Uncharted stretches of territories: areas that have never been explored. Unkown, deconocido.
Gross inaccuracies: ‘gross’ means ‘serious’ or ‘large’. Inaccurate – imprecise.
Rechart: to chart something is to put its dimension down on paper. To rechart it is to do the job again with modifications.
Heart of the matter: el Corazon del asunto
Worthy: something that deserves what it gets. Digno de. Algo que merece.
Remarkable: destacado. Poco comun (in a positive sense).Really good or noteworthy. Highly unusual.
Mediocre: average, not good not bad (but the word has negative connotations.)
Coffin: the wooden box they put you in when you die.