By Alice Loofbourrow
As we study King Lear in sophomore language, I’ve been thinking a lot about madness. In high school, I assumed Lear was mad, but I’m starting to see the sanity in his speeches. Does that mean I’m going crazy? I sure hope not!
Lear’s experience doesn’t seem all that different from the normal human experience, and I recognize his pain. We live in a mad world, and the work we do at St. John’s might seem mad to those who don’t understand the Program. We come here, disenchanted with modern education, or perhaps completely enchanted with the classical education, and we strip ourselves of the clothing of the world, unafraid to go naked under the reign of philosopher kings.
Is it crazy to let go of all the work I put in to become a doctor and put that on the back burner in favor of reading Plato? I think not! St. John’s breathes life, from the books we read to the beautiful flowers I’ve been noticing springing up all over campus. As the greenery brightens the less than picture perfect weather we’ve had as of late, I feel my soul turning about and noticing the light outside the cave.
My mind has been expanding these past two years as my class has passed from Plato to Descartes, and now I prepare to embark on the second half of my higher education. I’m far from a madwoman with lucid moments; I’m learning from philosophers by speaking with friends, and I’ve seen the logos, or argument, pass through multiple centuries without revealing the meaning of life to me, but that’s perfectly okay.
Lear’s biggest mistake is sentencing himself to life in death by giving away his inheritance too soon, but I will not let myself be condemned to this kind of life. I want to live a life where my soul is on fire and my mind is passing through multiple states of perplexity on a daily basis. I don’t mind if everyone thinks I’m crazy, because I know I’ve found a pearl worth risking everything for: self-knowledge.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from this college, it’s that we major in our souls. In this study of myself, I’ve hardly scratched the surface, and Socrates would say that I need only remember myself, for all knowledge is recollection. Maybe one day you, too, will get the chance to remember who you really are. And if you do, I hope you throw yourself into this Program because you will become more than you ever thought you could be. There’s something to be said for going naked in the rain.