Monday, July 20, 2009

True indeed

(...) Whatever else the peacetime service is good for, it can provide an excellent introduction to the structure of society at large. It becomes evident even to a young mind that often unacknowledged divisions in civilian life find clear and immediate expression in the military distinction between "officers" and "men". One makes the amazing discovery that grown adults walking around with college educations, wearing khaki and brass and charged with heavy-duty responsibilities, can in fact be idiots. And that working-class white hats, while in theory capable of idiocy, are much more apt to display competence, courage, humanity, wisdom, and other virtues associated, by the educated classes, with themselves. (...)

Thomas Pynchon, 1984

From Slow Learner (anthology), Introduction.


Maybe it was because I've never been in the military that I have witnessed idiocy and greatness indistinctly in higher and lower classes. Or maybe it was because I haven't really mingled with what Pynchon must have alluded to as working and educated classes, or maybe I just have too much education around -- around, not inside.

I shared the feeling of "amazing discovery" of something so rampantly obvious, though. In my case it was with some disappointment (I hoped education to save me irrevocably from stupidity), I don't know what Pynchon thought of it at the time.

No comments: