“Few ever get to the heart of the labyrinth. Most of us crawl about the entrance, or else venture timidly a few paces within only to retreat in panic.”— Henry Miller, The World Of Sex
“Therefore, such books may have to knock again and again at the closed door of our hearts.”—Havelock Ellis, preface to The Dance Of Life
A joyous Sunday morning to all.
The sky is clear and the sun is out and later in the day the boys and I will take in a minor ball game, hot dogs, pop, beer and all.
But before I get there I feel the urge to ruminate publicly on a subject near and dear to my heart: learning and education.
Earlier in the week a brochure peddling ‘The Great Courses’ arrived in my mailbox. In it multiple DVD sets containing courses such as ‘A History Of European Art’, ‘The Art Of Critical Decision Making’, ‘Optimizing Brain Fitness’, and ‘No Excuses: Existentialism And The Meaning Of Life’ can be had for as little as $19.95 (plus shipping and handling). Each ‘college level’ course is taught by ‘only the most engaging professors that universities like Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Vanderbilt, and Georgetown have to offer.’
For the curious and questing at heart it is a tempting prospect, but to me it is insidious and what’s more, points directly at the greatest challenge humanity faces as we move forward into the centuries to come:
Who or What does all this learning, all this information and education serve?
The above image was taken from the brochure and for me encapsulates the dead end pass we are rapidly approaching. Where is the heart of the labyrinth, the goal of all this ‘learning’? And here, according to the brochure, is one of our guides on the journey:
Does he inspire as little confidence in you as he does in me? Look at his eyes, the expression on his face. He strikes me as an intellectual bully, what the father of an old friend of mine would call a ‘mind fucker.’
I like that, a mind fucker.
To my thinking unless enough of us steer well clear of such subtly alluring intellectual stimulus we truly are fucked, collectively that is.
Compare the labyrinth above with that of ‘The Great Courses’. One is square, mathematically precise and devoid of a core or heart; the other spiral, almost tree like, organic, and reminiscent of earth and motherhood.
Two labyrinths. Two models of learning, discovery, and education.
“Most of us crawl about the entrance, or else venture timidly a few paces within only to retreat in panic,” wrote Miller in The World Of Sex. No question which labyrinth he was referring to.
Once more, and at the very core of the labyrinthian spiral:
Life is ALL there is….