Conversations with a Therapist #4 – To Know Madness

We return with another Conversations with a Therapist for item #5 on the list (because I’ve simplified a few topics in an earlier post). This times it’s…Horror vs. Happy? I…I honestly don’t know. I don’t know what this is about. At all. A case of my young childish mind making no sense to my current logical one. Though if I had to make a guess or create a topic based on those three words, if would be a discussion on Understanding vs. Ignorance.

Explanation: Ignorance is bliss. The less you understand something, the less you have to do with it, and the happier and more stress free you are. Supposedly. The more you understand something, the more you realize how it connects with you and what ramifications it has, thereby making your life a mess (or Horror). Most people would rather do without the drama that underlies all things and be absorbed in what effects them personally. The stress free life is the better life, right? I’m of the mind to live in the now with full understanding of what was and will be, even if it would bring on misery.

Thing is, I once read a book by Terry Pratchett called The Wee Free Men. Not a bad story at all, and one with a very likeable character as well. However, something of the ending has never sat right with me (notice of spoilers ahead for those who wish to find out for themselves). In the climax, Tiffany Aching called upon a power she has via her connection to the land, making her completely aware of herself and everything around her. Through this heightened clarity she was able to win her fight, but after she was done…she realized she couldn’t stay that way all the time. That she needed to remain simple and dumb in order to remain sane, and that, “To be awake, and see it all as it really is…no one could stand that for long.”

Now I may be getting the wrong idea when I read that, but it just burns me. Why is it too much to understand things as they are for too long a time? I had this discussion with the person who gave me the book on just that, and I still don’t get it. If you understand what something is, how does it do you any harm? I’ve always thought understanding of reality was core principle number one. If you understand yourself, the world, where you came from and where you are going, that’s one step closer to the dream of utopia.

There are of course other examples I do understand in relation to this. In the realm of horror fiction there is H. P. Lovecraft, whose body of work dealt with creatures and ideas so alien to understand it would literally drive you insane trying to comprehend it. Mind you, I think that’s a load of rubbish in terms of reality, where I believe anything can be conceived and rationalized. Heck, the very fact Cthulu was created by Lovecraft is proof of this. It works nice as fiction, but has trouble when translated into reality. Still a good example, and I don’t doubt our scientists would “go nuts” trying to figure out how star-spawn of Cthulhu work.

There is the more realistic approach in Pi, where a number theorist believes everything in nature can be understood through numbers and patterns. I’ve sadly not seen the movie yet, but I’ve read and seen plenty to peak my interest in the experience of the film. In summary (yay spoilers!), he’s right, and finds a number that allows him to predict outcomes in the stock market (among other things I’m not quite aware of because I haven’t seen it yet). Sadly, the burden of complete understanding was too much for him, and he purposefully and literally takes away his genius, making him incapable seeing patterns in nature and simply watch the trees billow in the wind. A strange film which could also be taken not so literally, giving a whole new meaning than what I’m presenting here, but it’s another perspective all the same.

Regardless of these examples, I’m still keen on perfect understanding of all there is. This is mostly a drive to help me catch up with what I never learned while growing up, because it’s a given I’m behind a lot of people my age in mental development and understanding. Even if it should give me pain and misery, I believe that through it I will gain true happiness. Better that than live in ignorance, find my error, than lament the years of obvious failure I worked.

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