This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Dealing with the ignorant

As soon as you begin truly thinking and set yourself to the task of becoming knowledgeable about anything, you will immediately be faced with the problem of the great mass of people around you who, never having considered the questions you are dealing with, pretend nonetheless to be experts on them. Everyone thinks they are a thinker, especially when they are not, and this applies double to those whose opinions have been collected willy-nilly from the television and the internet in such chaotic fashion that, unable to perceive the process, they believe that they arrived at their opinions on the basis of diligent research and disciplined reasoning. I think it is similar to the feeling you get when you possess some piece of furniture, and you have no idea where you got it, but you automatically assume that you came by it honestly since it has been in your possession as long as you can remember. So it is with the opinions of most people, but unlike the example of the furniture, these opinions have rarely been acquired in an honest fashion. You will have to live with this situation—as someone who has decided to cultivate an art that everyone else thinks they already have without ever having cultivated it at all. You might spend your nights pouring over difficult books, straining to find the answer to a political question that is being ‘debated’ by the public; you will then go out to share the fruit of your labor, and you will immediately discover that everyone already has an answer—it is a ridiculous answer, blatantly fallacious and even childish, nor did they have to think or study in order to formulate this answer—it just came to them, mysteriously, while they were watching the morning news—but it is ‘their opinion’ and they have ‘the right to their own opinion.’ And the result is that your knowledge is to them nothing more than another ‘opinion,’ which everyone has, of course. So you take it home and you file it away, and the public proceeds as follows: from all of the fallacious opinions held by the public, they choose the two most commonly held, and then they take a vote. And that is how things proceed. You will feel like a trained surgeon living amongst a society of people who prefer to do their own surgery, and as a result you will be forced to watch them botch it all, killing themselves and each other, over and over, and you will not be able to save them because they have no use for your knowledge, because they have been trained to believe that their ignorance is the same as your knowledge. The truly frightening moment will come when you realize that sooner or later, as the result of some vote or another, they will force you to let them perform their incompetent procedures on your own person. The point is that the more you have to say–whether in depth or breadth–the smaller the audience you will find. ‘He who writes for fools will always find a large public.’ The opposite is also true.

I do not say all this out of pessimism—I’m trying to prepare you for the moment when you discover something true and, following your natural impulse, you wish to run out into the streets and share it with the public. Or perhaps you discover something here in these very pages that rings true, and then you have the urge to appeal to your friends and neighbors. I tell you now, it will not go well. I want to see you pursue the vocation of thought without having to be distressed any more than necessary, and this means, first and foremost, having the right expectations about what you will be permitted to do with your knowledge once you acquire it.

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