Last night, above a Chinese restaurant at an undisclosed location, I listened to Greg Johnson give a lecture on the pursuit of wisdom and the uses of philosophy. Right now, I’m sitting at a Seafood Café on the Seattle pier, enjoying some local oysters and a beer or three before I head back to Portland on the Oswald Mosley Memorial ACTION! Bus. (It’s how all of the cool fascists travel these days.)
Above the bar, there’s a sign that reads “It is illegal for any person apparently under the influence of alcohol to purchase or consume alcohol on these premises.” In other words, it’s illegal for drunks to drink.
The gist of Johnson’s talk was that philosophy is about the pursuit of wisdom—of right living. You can have too much of a good thing or too much of a bad thing, but never enough wisdom, which is essentially knowing when to do what to achieve optimal results.
In a world that makes sense, we’d expect men to seek wisdom and to learn to make wise choices. About what they eat, about what they drink, and how much they drink. The intrusive state absolves them of that responsibility. We’ll tell you when you’ve had too much.
Mastery is about learning to control yourself and the world around you. I think one of the reasons men chafe under the nanny state is that we’re never really on our own, never adults, never men. There’s always someone to shake a finger, short circuiting the route men have to go through to gain wisdom—to learn how much is too much and learn the value of moderation on their own. I don’t trust people who simply accept advice. You don’t need to keep inventing the wheel, but a lot of real wisdom comes from learning things the hard way—from pushing the boundaries and finding out whar the dragons be.