Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss...Or Is It?

We had an assignment in English to go on Blackboard and respond to one of the quotes our teacher had posted. There were four. I chose "Ignorance is bliss" and the following is what I wrote.

  I suppose it depends on the level of ignorance in question when it comes to agreeing or disagreeing with this quote. If a person (or animal, in the case of Animal Farm) is completely ignorant through and through regarding their situation (such as how the animals had no idea what Napoleon and his cronies were up to) and they believe everything they are told, their ignorance truly will be bliss. The animals believed they were far better off under Napoleon’s rule than they had been under Jones, so they were happy. Boxer and the rest worked their tails off for the bare minimum and were still completely in love with the idea of their new lives.
            However, ignorance far easier to break than the possession of knowledge (unless one is in control of mind-wiping technology). Granger and his companions in Fahrenheit 451 have books in their minds and nothing can extract that knowledge from them. Montag, on the other hand, is floating just a few inches under the water, and it only takes a few thrown pebbles from Clarisse and Faber to break the surface tension and allow him to emerge into the sunlight. After that, he is still ignorant, but he is aware of the fact. This sort of ignorance is the complete opposite of bliss. It’s terribly aggravating and is sure to make a person feel completely helpless. He struggles to learn by reading his hidden books, yet remains utterly left in the dark.
            Ignorance is a fragile thing, and even the slightest bit of disturbance can disrupt the total immersion that is essential to maintain the state of bliss. There is a point where the victim begins to fight his or her savior in order to keep drowning, as is the case with Mildred.
            Today, we live in a state of perpetual fluctuating ignorance. We’re doing the breast-stroke: one moment our head is above the water, so we take a breath of air, and then we plunge ourselves back into the icy depths from which we emerged. Exposure to the truth of an issue (such as the brutality of war, the corruption of a person or organization, the obesity epidemic, or our own grotesque spending habits, etc.) only lasts for so long before our minds block it out again and we go back to our old ways with little thought to our brief respite from the conditioning we have undergone our entire lives. Whether this brainwashing of sorts is from our parents, our religion, our general society, or our own psychological refusal to see what is hidden in plain sight, it remains a problem. We are land animals, so let’s go walk around on the beach.

I'll post one of the responses I got later, possibly tomorrow. Then you'll get to see MY response to THAT. We had a bit of an argument. 

So: What do you think of the quote?


  1. Interesting point, but I have to say that, while I really like Animal Farm, I hate Fahrenheit 451.


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