Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wisdom's Grief

Grief - deep, real, basic sadness.  A pain in my stomach for the emptiness of thought.  A longing for anything of meaning.  There are no words.  There is nothing - nothing rational.  Truth, meaning, logic, purpose - all lies I wish to believe with all my heart but can't - no matter how heavy the pit in my stomach weighs.  There is nothing; just the next task, meal, chore - no endeavor truly worthy of conviction.  The pit in my stomach sinks still further, heavier, deeper; the more I ponder the cause of my affliction, the more acute my pain.  Emptiness abounds.  There is nothing.

King Shlomo:
For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
Mary in "Pride and Prejudice" states:
"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."
If we agree with Mary - that vanity is really about what we hope/think others do/should believe of us, then it's challenging to understand why there should be much grief in wisdom.  Yes, pride is felt by fulfilling expectations of ourselves, but these expectations are shaped by others in myriad ways both directly and indirectly, rendering pride a fundamentally social experience.  In fact, not only would man not have expectations of himself were he not to socialize with others, but he would be incapable of taking pride in anything were he not a social being.

Plus, Mary does not recognize that pride is a derivative of vanity, since one cannot feel proud of his work without first thinking that he is capable of anything worthy of pride, which is, of course, absurd given that all is fleeting and man is nothing.  Just as the wise man believes himself foolish, so too does the vain man believe himself proud.  Basically, the wise man's self-perceived foolishness is his wisdom just as the vain man's self-percieved pride is his vanity.

The wise man appears to himself as vain, but to his Creator he appears less vain than most.  Now, tender reader, we see yet another instance in which wisdom contains nothing but grief.

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