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Jared’s Blog: Shakespeare Essay


I heard in homeroom that this week’s essay prompt was going to be some Shakespeare thing, and I thought for sure it was going to be some boring-ass “how now are we all to proceed hither blah blah blah,” but nope, it’s actually pretty short and sweet: “There is no darkness but ignorance.”

And right now I’m sitting in the computer lab, and pretty much everyone is typing away on their essays like they were getting paid for it, because fyi, if you don’t know a quote like that is supposed to kick off a big conversation of all the stuff you never knew, and now you do, and how much better your life is, well, you have not been paying attention to the last 10+ years of school. I mean, there are people here typing about how global warming is all a big liberal conspiracy, and one vegan girl typing up a whole thing about how they don’t want you to know how much pigs suffer to make bacon.

So congratulations, teachers of Paulie High School, because your students are not idiots. You give us a prompt like this, and we get it, we know we’re supposed to come down on the side of knowledge and how awesome it is.

Except… I’m a little on the fence on this knowledge thing. Or maybe I’m just saying ignorance is not as bad as people think. I’m not talking about obvious ignorance, like not knowing that fire is hot, or a gun shoots bullets—I agree, that’s basic stuff everyone should know, and not knowing it means you’re gonna have a much rougher time of it.

No, I mean more, there’s stuff that once you know it, you can never un-know it. And then you think back on the pre-knowing days, and… they’re not so bad, considering. The big one here, obviously, is death. I would not necessarily have minded living another ten or twenty years before someone explained how death worked. I mean, obviously, I would have had to not watch pretty much any movies or play any videogames or read any books or newspapers. Or to not make friends with any kids who had pets. Or grandparents.

Okay, I admit, that’s totally impractical. I’m just saying, there was a time in my life when I would stand out in the outfield in a Little League game, just waiting for some incredibly unlikely fly ball to drop down into my mitt, and, like, hours would go by and I wouldn’t even notice. (My mom says it was once literally hours, that one time when I was in the Pee Wee league, I went out into right field and refused to come back when my team was at bat. I apparently spent the whole game spinning around in circles, falling down on the grass and then doing it all over again.)

And now if I’m bored for even ten minutes in gym class, I immediately start thinking: This is so stupid, there are so many things I could be doing with my life instead of this. And how sad it would be if I were struck by lightning right now, because of all the things I wanted to do, but didn’t, because I wasted my last ten minutes on earth waiting for the gym teacher to stop arguing with Andy Bricknell over what is or isn’t a correct volleyball serve.

Then I start thinking about all the things that I wish I could change, all the things that are so screwed up and I can’t do anything about, stuff I just have to live with and hope that some day, it’s not as screwed up. Which is what my sister would call “a totally worthless coping strategy.”

But here’s the crazy thing: You can’t have hope without ignorance. Like, if you know something is true or is absolutely 100% gonna happen, there’s nothing to hope for. You can’t hope that fire is cold. So the only way to have hope is to admit, yeah, there’s stuff you don’t know. Maybe things aren’t as bad as you think they are. Maybe people are capable of being less than total jagbags. I could be wrong. I’d really like to be wrong.

Am I? I don’t know.

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