The Intellectual: Good, But Not Quite Good Enough

Well, this is just a crazy vignette I wrote one day in Cambridge. It is a well-meaning parody of intellectual life, I hope you enjoy it...


So, you want to be an intellectual. You have blown off the dust of material desires, defrocked yourself of all the distractions of power and popularity. Now your mind is free to roam the broad and lofty planes of the intellect. At the far end of the via intellectus, the secrets of the universe are waiting to be unlocked. The thoughts of God himself are waiting to be known. Now go, in search of knowledge, go without preconceptions!

[...some time passes, and the seeker treads the road to truth with courage and sincerity...]

So, intrepid seeker, you have finally attained to your goal--stand now proudly as an exemplary member of the intelligentsia. You have taken the brave flight of the intellect, and returned with some treasures, namely, 'original ideas'. You have the publishing rights to a couple of books, and an interesting combination of letters after your name. Your dress style is now fashionable and sophisticated without being flamboyant. You have learnt how to phrase your words in such a manner that, when you speak, other people shut up and stare wide-eyed in wonder and adoration. Well done. These are all useful assets, terribly useful. But sadly, the unthinkable has happened... you missed the mark and didn't actually manage to discover that lofty sanctum of truth which was your goal! One of the undergraduates must have mis-shelved it. As a result, the answers to the questions of life, the universe and everything are, tragically, still a mystery.

Disappointed and considerably richer, your pragmatism sees no other option than to spend your first long-term Sabbatical leave drinking pina coladas in Goa with your new friends: Iris, the eloquent but surprisingly feisty new junior lecturer from the Philosophy department, and Genevieve, the deep, sweet, chic young poet-***-lit-critic who has always admired your work and, with both of whom, of course, you have a series of sordid affairs so sensuous and passionate that in comparison they make the memoires of Giacomo Casanova read like Augustine's City of God. You wake up one morning shortly after and find that you have been so busy in your amphetamine-fuelled efforts to find a weakness in Professor Schichter's arguments for non-linear causality, so you can take his Professorship for yourself, that you can no longer remember the central thesis of your last book and now require valium and at least two shots of scotch before you are ready to lecture in the mornings. The tentative conclusion? If there is indeed a road to truth and knowledge, being an intellectual was probably not the best way to find it.
noxlucida noxlucida
2 Responses Aug 8, 2010

Gald I found your story, it brings back a lot of memories of college days and the questions that never end. I wish you the very best along your road of life.

when you are green you grow, when you are ripe, you rot!