A word to idealists: disappointment must be earned. If it is true that there is no such thing as a free lunch, it is even truer that there is no such thing as a free education. Not only does it involve our suffering pain, as Aristotle observed, but we must make an active effort to obtain our freedom from consoling, insulating ignorance. Shared ignorance and prejudice: aren’t these the strongest bonds holding a surprising number of marriages, families, clans, communities, and all nations together? Thus those who, through their painful exertions, liberate their minds and hearts from ignorance and prejudice will also be most acutely aware of their solitariness. Are my words sinking in? Is it becoming clearer why, with this more stringent definition, there are so few truly educated persons around – but, at best, highly informed (or instructed) ones, which is a very different kettle of fish? Yes, indeed, so different, in fact, that these two – the rare, genuinely educated and the far more numerous “informed/instructed” – are naturally at loggerheads with each other.
So there you have it: the continual, strenuous exertion of swimming against the current; the regular experience of painful disenchantment with what’s offered on the established menu; and the often stark solitariness to which we are consigned as we inwardly negotiate the distances between our severely uncompromising sharp-sightedness and the soporific soft-focus simplicitas in which those near and dear to us often dwell! And all for the sake of an extremely limited and precarious, moment-by-moment liberation from the comforting and affiliating fog of ordinary collective consciousness! What a strange (and vexing-perplexing) lot we dogged delvers and diggers are!
Yes, the exorbitant cost of the genuine education will empty the bulging piggy banks of even the wealthiest minds. There is perhaps some consolation to be found, however, when it is at last learned that the currency one has been dispossessed of was inflated, if not counterfeit, all along.