(found covered in x’s, o’s and smiling faces)
You must tell me, and you must tell me this instant, how it is possible to know anything. How is knowledge of the world, its nature, or human beings and their nature, how is any of that even possible, when it is so easy for a single individual to not even know himself?
If I, self-assured as I am wont to be, can be so wrong about every detail of my character other than my name, then how can any man even know for certain that the sky is blue or that grass is green?
Is not, then, knowledge just delusion, and knowledge of our knowledge just a mad certainty of that delusion?
For years – not years, Julius, but decades – I operated under the certainty that I was the shy person, the quiet person and the conservative intellectual. I wasn’t at clubs or bars or dancing and singing. I was at home, with a book and a quiet companion, swirling a snifter of brandy under a dusky light. I was holding a glass of red wine beneath my nose and holding court in the corner of a party – one of those refined and worthy parties – while some man wearing an ascot and coke-bottle glasses and a woman in a woolen skirt and opaque stockings laughed at my jokes about Brechtian despair.
What could have ever tipped me off to my delusion and my despair?
How was I to know that the source of my loathing and my cynicism was not caused by some external conflict, a tension between myself and a perpetually unsatisfying cast of characters rotating through an even more unsatisfying setting?
How was I to know that the brief moments of exuberance I’ve stumbled across in my life were not caused by luck or happy accident and that they did not have to be the exceptions to a rule, but the rule itself – given that they were treated as such?
How was I to know that I was instead a creature of that exuberance, capable of laughter and smiling at any moment, able to fly off into passionate rants about beauty and love and kindness just as easily – in fact more so – as I can about hatred and suffering and pain?
But now I am certain of that. I have decided to smile, and so I will smile.
Read more excellent responses to today’s Daily Challenge here: