Dead wise: to be wise you have to be dead—you have to become dead in life. Why? It comes down to this statement, “As a…”, you know what I mean, “As a straight white male…”, “As a lawyer…”, “As a mainline Episcopalian…”, “As an AI researcher…”, “As a son-in-law with two children…”.
As soon as you say that, you will not be wise. Why? Because everything you do goes through “the filter”. You sit there before you speak and you think, “Can I say this as an Episcopalian?”, “As a homeowner?”, “As a straight man?”. In other words, you put the blinkers on—now, you may have been told that “the blinkers” are “good”, “nice girls don’t say that”—“Speaking as a nice girl…”; or, more likely, “good Christians don’t say that”.
It gets worse the more you’re into a belief, like Christianity or Marxism—but people have their own personal versions, partly related to their internal self-image. “I’m not the kind of person who says that.” Really? Who are you, anyway?
Indeed, people who are very attached to their internal identity will experience considerable distress if it is breached—if external events make it appear like they are not that person.
To see what I mean find a video on YouTube of some professional, like a corporate lawyer, who snapped and killed their family—watch the cognitive dissonance they experience trying to reconcile the fact that they are internally an “upstanding member of society who never has anything to do with the police” and the fact they have slaughtered their family (including “Timmy”, the Labrador Retriever).
Kill your-self before your ideas kill you—in other words, forget the internal self-image; it’s just a story you made up about yourself based on memories and experiences that aren’t happening now. It’s something you sell to people, sold to someone in the past—your parent or teacher—to get them to give you what you needed; probably you’re using it on your partner right now.
Any time you put “the blinkers” on you’re not going to be wise. You’re not going to see. It’s like all these elite child sex cases in Britain—they always interview people afterwards who say something like, “Well, yes, I saw this and that—but it wasn’t my place to say, I didn’t think.” You need to be dead—you’re too sociable, too concerned with the result (with pride).
Even men like Darwin weren’t immune to this factor—he spent ages gathering evidence to make his case watertight (because he knew it would damage the Christian religion, destabilise society, lead to vituperative attacks against himself). Really, he was being a lawyer—he was building a case, he was covering his ass (as the Americans say).
He knew the truth in some sudden moment of mystic insight—*bang*. Then he spent 20 years hedging round it because he immediately realised that it blew Christianity out of the water—so he feared the public reaction, but a dead man wouldn’t be afraid of that (hence Darwin was not truly wise, he feared for his life).
But if that’s how it is, that’s how it is—what you want to protect people from, in the end, is reality. It’s because to be disillusioned is like death—and people fear even the death of their illusions. But what do you value more, a sentimental lie you tell yourself or truthfulness? Well, what you really worry about, speaking wisely, is your own life (which you hold dearer than truth)—then your reputation, then your material goods (which depend on the former, anyway).
(Not considered by Darwin: religion is real but Christianity is not the most truthful religion—not considered because Christianity is an unwise religion, which asks you to *check* to make sure you don’t violate its lies [sorry, “rules”] before you speak, so it can suppress all other religions; just like its cousin, Marxism).
It’s like Luther published The Jews and their Lies—but did you ever consider Christianity is a lie? Did you ever square that circle? No, because Luther still had the blinkers: he could never make the obvious connection, even as he raged at the lies of the Jews—that they are habitual liars, and they invented Christianity so Christianity is…(a lie).
Well, if you’re going to be wise you better be dead—and if you’re dead already, that’s helpful; because a lot of people will want to kill you, because people will kill to preserve the lie over truthfulness—the lie is their life. Then again, if you speak from nowhere you have no party, no faction, no partial view—you’re the voice from beyond, you’re past care.
It’s connected to divine kingship, to the wise king—who is totally impersonal. You see a faint intimation of this in the figure of the Duke of Edinburgh, he would just turn up at some place and say, “This fuse-box looks like it was wired by an Indian”. These events were recorded as “gaffs” but everyone found them genuinely hilarious (or profound). That’s because he was just being a “wise king” making observations.
Unwise people, such as the middle class, who are prideful (being concerned with social respectability, “keeping up appearances”), would never say such a thing. You could say it’s “the rude truth”—rude because it’s very frank, but also because it’s in “rude health”.
The popular explanation for this frankness is that the Prince of Edinburgh was an arrogant out-of-touch aristocrat who needed to be more like Tony Blair, more “accessible”—more weepy, like a Church of England vicar running an Alpha course. Hence wisdom is often mistaken for arrogance, but wisdom forgets itself—it’s connected to the warrior-king, because the warrior must surmount his fear of death (a spiritual act); then he can speak as he finds—and he deals in raw practicalities, not polite notions (as with the scholar or the priest). Hence wisdom and war go together—for life itself is war.