Today I awoke thinking about the idea of teaching. I’ve always felt out of place in the world of careers, so I frequently contemplate (which is to say, daydream about) professional possibilities. I know that I would make a good teacher; but I also wonder if my aversion to human-wrangling might render me a better fit for the position of personal tutor. (I recoil from the thought of disciplining a full mob of students.) Also, once I start mulling over the idea more thoroughly, I realize that, although I admire its practitioners, I don’t really even believe in the concept of teaching.
Who can learn anything from anyone? Are there truly individuals out there from whom one might acquire knowledge? Let’s say that a woman has perfected the art of metalworking. I suppose that one could become that woman’s apprentice and then work one’s way up to becoming a master metalworker. But now that so many portable, electronic devices are available to purchase, and these devices can be used for so many activities—everything from chatting with friends to playing old arcade games—why would anyone want to do anything other than pop pills and sleep? (I should never forget that gold is a metal. If I’m going to work in metal, let it be gold.)
I’m just letting my thoughts dawdle, potter, ramble, meander, roam. Since nobody pays me to write this diary, I can say whatever I want with impunity, and sometimes I’m in the mood to let thoughts rove, range, drift, prowl, traipse, mosey, tootle (I’m quoting a thesaurus).
Sometimes thoughts crash together, and sometimes you witness a narrow squeak; by which I mean something like a lucky escape: a close shave. Who knows why ideas appear in the mind? Maybe it all does really depend upon what happened to you as an infant. Sometimes it seems that even our loosest imaginations are overdetermined: this moves me to place a high value on absurdity, because its rarity—the difficulty of achieving it—makes it attractive. But if you think of the mind as a bubbling cauldron of ideas, all of which are essentially chaotic, then order becomes desirable.
I wonder if stiffness and conservatism are symptoms of having a wild mind. If you start with bizarre, unruly thoughts; you desire to tame them—as a result, you become a stiff conservative. Or if you begin with reasonable, rational, orderly thoughts and a mind that works like a well-oiled machine, then you crave zaniness: you end up as an exuberant poet, a mad professor.
But it’s equally persuasive to think that a conservative demeanor is the result of a conservative brain, etc. I doubt that this has a thing to do with any of the foregoing murmurs, but I want to quote a bible passage to conclude this entry, because I happened to read it this morning, and it evoked a memory from my church days. The Apostle Paul, in chapter 7 of his first letter to the Corinthians, teaches his disciples that remaining unmarried is better than getting married:
I would that all men were even as I myself. . . . I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. . . . Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. . . . I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. . . . So then he that giveth [his daughter] in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
I once heard a pastor read these words and chuckle, and then he said that if Christians were to follow this part of the Bible, they sure wouldn’t last many generations (the point being that unmarried people don’t have children); and his congregation laughed with him at his joke. Upon witnessing this, first I was shocked that these churchgoers could take their own scripture so lightly—for I had earlier heard them proclaim that “every single letter of the Bible is infallible,” and they called it “the inerrant Word of God.” So I was surprised that they could all chuckle and laugh as if the importance of the Holy Book was just an advertising tactic to use with outsiders, not something to be taken to heart or put into practice.
But then my second thought was that maybe God really did write all of St. Paul’s epistles, as churchmen insist: perhaps God composed the aforesaid teachings (I Corinthians 7) precisely for the purpose of extinguishing whoever believes them.