One deeply steeped in red pill stew finds himself wondering about the cost of knowing. Who does not have that moment when he wonders whether his unplugging was worth it. Would it not be easier to make the proverbial deal with the devil, be plugged back in and relish again in not knowing from whence the puppet strings are pulled.
Anonymity, a highly priced commodity among dissidents, comes with its own costs; showing always the mask and never the face leaves a man feeling like his mask. When the mask is cold, critical, and calculating one wonders if he himself is not the same. Does knowing have a price, or is the shedding of puerile idealism the natural bent of age? Is coldness the cost of a mask?
I wrote the following a little over a year ago on a night when the remembrance of blindness bore heavy upon me:
Young Poet, Old Poet
I often wonder on the meeting of the Old Poet and the Young. Oh, the things I would tell him. Yet, the truth of the matter wearies me. The Young Poet would be too disgusted to listen to the Old. The Young Poet would find the Old too cold, too calculating; he would wonder why we started to plan our moves ahead; he would ask about our plans, of all those multifarious books we were to read, and finding them read would regret having wanted them.
“Is this the price of knowledge?”
He would wonder when we lost our freedom, our passion, our zeal for living more than existing, for doing wildly and blindly what now we weigh and calculate.
“Doesn’t your soul ache daily?”
“Not any longer,” would Old Poet reply. “Now it comes in cycles, by moons, or by quarters, maybe. We’re more stable now, more solid, less volatile.”
“Less alive, more dead, that’s more like the truth,” would Young Poet say.
“But look at what we’ve gained: more skill in thought, more able in drawing, in writing, in any number of skills you lack and wish for. We have greater strength, and a confidence that comes from our core, not that boldness irrationally wrought from postpubescent hipster disdain. We have a wife, and a child. Look at our house; is there not much to be glad for?”
“These things are fine and well, if you say they are, but at what cost have you had them? Where is our passion, where our love? You’re less than I imagine. You are a slave to this life, without the will to shake off your chains. You’ve traded our old chaos for still caged thoughts. And what of our aspirations? Where’ve you stashed them?”
He shook his head.
“You are happy when you ought to be sad. You’ve given up the precious jewels, silks, and crowns. You’ve sold our glory and greatness. You’ve read deeply, so deeply that you’ve abandoned yourself in a sea of words, giving yourself up to another story’s protagonist. You’ve gained sight, but lost vision. You’ve traded comfort for our old discomfort, and think the contentment worthy.” The blathering fool, out a breath, stopped there, but only that he could pierce the Old Poet, searching him out for the silent answers.
“O! O! That is it! I’ve struck it. I know what you have done. You’ve traded the promise of heaven for the earth herself and you congratulate yourself for the deal. What you think you’ve won cost a great deal.”
“O poor, silly, Young Poet. You too will grow and age. You will make the selfsame deals and finding yourself turning slowly to understand what has been lost and what gained. How foolish that I thought I could guide you to soften the wage, but Charon will take no less than his due; no, I cannot impart to you that coinage that must be borne by each one himself. You will search out the light and by your very zeal will you one day find, wondering when and how it could have come to pass, that when all your efforts worked to avoid the protean change it was this Old Poet you became. Poor, silly Young Poet.”
Veritas numquam perit,