Monday, March 1, 2010

Wisdom Teeth

I never got any wisdom teeth.  The dentist said that I was lucky, that I was more "evolved" than most people and (he implied) because I had never been afflicted with wisdom, I would suffer less than most of my fellows.  He was probably right.  Even the smallest dose of wisdom--like those "extra" teeth--almost always causes pain and anguish.  Wisdom teeth simply have to be extracted from the body--else "normal" functioning is impossible.   Similarly, wisdom of any sort must be eliminated--perhaps by high colonics?--lest the entire organism suffer mercilessly from knowing too much.

It's the same with wise people, isn't it?  As wisdom teeth inflame the gums, so also do wise people torment the body politic.  Indeed, wisdom teeth and wisdom are both "too much"--there is no room for them, they cannot be tolerated, they must be removed. Hence, throughout the centuries of--dare I call it civilization?--society has repeatedly found it necessary to extract wise people from the social dentition they are poisoning.  Derisively,  we denounce the insufferable "wise guys" whose truth-telling causes us such pain:  Socrates and Jesus, of course--but also Lincoln, Gandhi, King.

French parents tell their children to "be wise."  But I think they're joking.  What they really mean is:  "Be stupid so as not to make yourself or anyone else aware of the mess that we're all in."  In short, lack of wisdom, as my childhood dentist knew, is indeed the most evolved state.  After all, wisdom is, well, original sin, isn't it?--remember that "tree of knowledge"? And so, in some sense, aren't those of us who never acquired any wisdom (or wisdom teeth) as sin-free as Mary's Immaculate Conception?

I'd like a chapel, please.

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