Why do we educate ourselves? The majority of Duke students are fairly intelligent and have gone through a rigorous American education designed to battle the Communist threat. Whether your grade school teachers were compassionate Anne Sullivans attempting to share their overly ecstatic love for knowledge with you or old robotic beasts of discipline who cared more about keeping you in line, you probably (judging from where you are now) learned a little bit. Hell, you might have even been in the gifted class. This is because they want to start the indoctrination as early as possible so it has a chance to sink deep into your soul and consume you.
The whole education system is there to teach us one thing: to think. I believe this is a conspiratorial plot between the government and our parents to make our lives progressively suck more and more. Of course, education is beneficial for a few reasons (getting a job, not hating people different from you, etc.), but these are examples of applied information that target a specific purpose. These are by-products of a mental training program designed to develop the mind into an abstract thinking machine akin to the likes of Galileo or John Nash. The problem is that Galileo was condemned to death for professing his findings and John Nash was a schizophrenic. Even so, the president wants you to use your little noggin and your math masters degree to come up with the next kickass weapon to take out Kim Jong Il and your mom wants you to make her proud. That is some selfish BS, and it’s ruining your chance to be the next member of the Mickey Mouse Club.
Instead, I have a different gameplan. I want to be young and ignorant, and as far as I know (which won’t be much), comfortably sane. If you have seen A Beautiful Mind, a John Nash biopic accurate enough for our purposes, you know that Nash deduced the principles of game theory but also went psycho. That’s the result of a stellar education and high intelligence. Maybe the Nash story is a little extreme, but there is no doubt in my mind that insanity is a reasonable destination for accelerating intelligence.
You remember those “The More You Know” commercials on NBC where Uncle Jessie from Full House or someone would say something inane? Well they didn’t finish the sentence, which should say the more you know, the more you realize it sucks. And what is “it”? “It” is poverty, bills or the disparity of the world. “It” is that thousands of people get screwed by a tsunami. “It” is caring when nature, or reality, doesn’t. The Less I Know, the more I can stop caring and enjoy life in the moment.
Conveniently enough, enjoying life in the moment is exactly what ignorant, little kids do while we are pondering unsolvable metaphysical questions. I realize it may be difficult to see the parallel between education and increasing disappointment with the world around you. I may also seem to have a tendency towards pessimism that leads me to this conclusion more easily. I don’t believe I’m pessimistic because all I want is to live as long as possible in every sense of the word, which means staying young as long as possible. However, my course load here at Duke is precluding me from staying a Toys ’R Us kid. For all intensive purposes, education shortens life because developing your intelligence and learning almost automatically brands you an ever more mature individual, and maturity is a proportional measure of age. By the transitive rule, or whatever rule gives me free reign to compare things subjectively, I extrapolate that I am educating myself fast enough to get Social Security benefits by the time I get a job.
Finding myself in this frightening, unbridled, learning center, I have no choice but to do my best to offset the effects of positive instruction the only way I know how. If the goal is to act like a na*ve, carefree kid where the world is his playground, I think the method is obvious: killing my brain cells one beer at a time.
Ashwin Bhirud is a Trinity sophomore. His column appears every other Wednesday.