AnonymousDeleted UserSeptember 30, 2020 at 10:16 pm
In his essay, “The Way of Ignorance,” Wendell Berry describes “ignorant arrogance” as the prideful human mind that projects limitless confidence, instead of recognizing its limits and even its own responsibility for humanity’s problems. In contrast to such arrogant ignorance, the way of wisdom, according to Wendell Berry, is modeled by the human mind that recognizes its inherent limits. “To counter the ignorant use of knowledge and power we have,” Berry writes, “I am afraid, only a proper humility…” (63). Wisdom humbly recognizes its own ignorance, and, in so doing, reveals the futility of those who fail to do so.
Thomas Pynchon’s introduction to his work, Slow Learner, embodies the counter-intuitive understanding of wisdom that Berry suggests. Pynchon is willing to walk the reader through examples of the “embarrassing” immaturity of his earlier writing, taking pains to point out where he used a phrase he didn’t actually know in an attempt to appear more intelligent, for example, while simultaneously revealing his own ignorance (to the savvy reader). Worse still are the examples of racist and sexist ideology, reflective of his time and place, sure, but harmful nonetheless (11). Pynchot’s willingness to reveal his own ignorance reveals a certain maturity, and even humility—the way of wisdom that Berry encourages in the face of so much “ignorant arrogance.”