The acquisition of knowledge without personal growth is at its best useless, but otherwise sheer idiocy.  Sometimes we are exposed to a child wonder of four who knows Greek or Latin but who doesn’t think a single thought in these languages.  Pure outer form and no content.

Apart from the parents’ robbing the child of its childhood, we – the “admirers” – forget that the “deed” of learning something difficult is nothing in itself .  There must be hundreds of millions of four-year-olds who know more than a hundred Pokémon figures, complete with their detailed abilities and characteristics.

Trivial Pursuit is a case in point as all it comes to is remembering what used to be part of the basic training in high school (History, Literature, Music, Physics…) or was in the news.  Nothing to it, really, just remember the facts.  The only person who can “admire” such knowledge must be the one who didn’t learn it himself.  What about all the other facts that aren’t taught in school?  And what about skills that can’t be turned into questions?  Isn’t the important thing the ability to combine facts and deduct new insight, the kind of knowledge that isn’t in books and can’t be learned by heart?

Further, shouldn’t knowledge be tempered with compassion or some other insight into what it means to be a human being?  If not, such knowledge is of a limited kind, as if acquired by a machine and not a man.

Too many “educated” people want to make sure that their listeners understand that they are knowledgeable in fields that are just borrowed plumes when they (often mis)quote greater personalities than themselves.  There’s nothing wrong in knowing the thoughts of great thinkers, nothing wrong in sharing that knowledge, but the important thing is to apply their thinking to your own thinking instead of dropping quotes.  Quotes are like poetry, one line making up for a whole paragraph, and thus should not be mixed with prose.

And what happened to clear, precise and fluent prose?  Plain, no-nonsense writing, unburdened by stilted, pompous inserts and strained vocabulary.  True eloquence always appears unforced rather than “arty”.

January 2001
Erik Moldrup