Thinking made me ugly. If only I was a bishop.


The following is from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
“The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don’t think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful.”

To be a philosopher is to carry a furrowed brow. Always contemplating the greatest questions of mankind. Questions of ethics, origins, existence, truth, and meaning. Questions of life and death. What is our purpose? What is the definition of a perfect lady, a perfect gentlemen? How should we conduct ourselves? What are the highest virtues? What are the definitions of character that we should all strive to achieve? How can a just society be established and maintained? What challenges and threats are facing our world, and how do we deal with them?

There is an aesthetic price to pay for deep thinking. There’s a toll for not accepting at 30 what one was told to believe at 3. A penalty for not accepting childish stories to satisfy complex inquiries. One can contemplate much at a young age and get away with it, but eventually it comes. The wrinkles, crevices, valleys, gorges. A forehead that resembles the Grand Canyon. A hideous pattern of cracks in what used to be flawlessly smooth. And for what? An examined life that adds a little more meaning to an otherwise minute and temporary existence? Yes, that’s pretty much it, and those deemed wise gladly accept the trade.

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” – William Shakespeare

-James Kirk Wall

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