Monday, January 13, 2020

The Hounds of Knowledge

Knowing Your Destiny
Part 13 of 30

I’m still mourning the passing of an old professor I knew years ago, and thinking of the anguish I felt when he met his ultimate destiny. Mostly because of everything that passed with him, being a man of great knowledge. That was his pride, really, not just knowing things but being able to interpret it for us dunces. (Instead of saying his real name and reopening old wounds for his family, I’ll give him the name Prof. Jimmy.)

From the very start I knew Prof. Jimmy was someone special. We had the first day of class, then coincidentally I ran into him in the stacks of the library. I startled him and he quickly slid a volume back into its space. And pushed the bookcase over, I guess to block my path.

I’ve thought many times about that and how to understand it. I resolved to keep a low profile in order to learn his ways. I was as hidden and obscure as was possible around him. I’d find him occasionally slipping into a quick convocation with like-minded people. And there was a hidden pattern of behavior -- nods, winks, and other gestures -- when they were together. The weird thing is how they covered their tracks, closing doors, obscuring corridors and chutes they may have been in, and, yes, tipping over bookcases.

The more I thought of it, the more I realized how he was compromising our general destiny. As a half-assed student, a very poor student, I used this as a valid excuse for my failure, Prof. Jimmy’s failure on his mission to teach, based no doubt on many other hidden shenanigans.

You know what this did for me? It really was a great excuse, allowing me to enroll at multiple places. I'd just trot out the memories of Prof. Jimmy and immediately be accepted. But I was never much of an academic success, again, thanks to those shenanigans. I got a lot of sympathy, which was great. Because, look at me, how could I be expected to learn when the professors (this one) pulled so many tricks? How could I be expected to do well on any final exam with my trauma? I always lived in fear that there was some trickery involved, something to trip me up and make me fail.

The real tragedy is all I might’ve accomplished had Prof. Jimmy not been such a dope. I might’ve found the cure for cancer, which, even though I’m always looking for a cure, there are still aspects of it that are just out of reach. It was definitely Prof. Jimmy who slowed me down.

The overall lesson from such a travesty is for all of us to bemoan the obstruction of knowledge. The world deserved better, but Prof. Jimmy spit in its face and told it to eat cake. As for myself, this lesson has made me resolve to always -- 100% of the time -- reveal any knowledge I might have that would do others any good. And so my call to professors today is “Unleash the Hounds” of knowledge, and let that be your living destiny, not taking the things you hold dear to your heart to the grave, but sharing them even today with a world extremely dumb and bound to stay that way, given its own choice.

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