“Wisdom becomes knowledge when it is personal experience”

I refuse to believe that, or even understand it, because it’s what’s written on the little tab attached to my Yogi Tea tea bag this morning. I don’t like to get my platitudes from products.

I feel sort of bad that readers – whether also bereaved parents, curious lurkers, or random stumble upon-ers – can never have any idea whether the next post they read of mine will obviously relate to the purpose of this blog, or whether they’re about to be subjected to the aimless musings of a leftist (but activism apathetic) historian. But maybe that’s overly vain, to think anyone will care more than to just give it a pass if not interested.

My blog title, as Niobe brought out in the open, refers to a 19th-century book written by an actress, Fanny Kemble, during the year she spent in Italy after leaving her husband, and thus losing her rights to custodial care of her daughters. I can’t think outside of my subjective experience, and in my case, that means I am always already also an historian and cultural critic (however successful) in addition to being a bereaved mother (I am openly thriving as that). Other people leave their “career” behind, but I don’t. Every day when I was in the hospital, and even as they wheeled me into the OR, I was half-thinking about what my experience meant in relation to the discourse of pregnancy and motherhood.I guess that’s why this blog is sprawling, constantly changing from personal experience to personal perspective, and sometimes both at once or more.

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8 responses to ““Wisdom becomes knowledge when it is personal experience”

  1. I love your varied and “sprawling” discourse.

    Actually, I was interested to learn where the title of your Blog came from. What I first thought of when I saw your Blog title was St. Ignatius. He wrote a lot about the spiritual experiences of “consolation” and “desolation.” I realize his spiritual exercises might stand outside of your own personal theology, but I think his definitions might still be of interest to you. The definitions below are just the tip of the iceberg, and I should mention that he did say “consolation” does not preclude sorrow.

    The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (1491-1556) is one such example. In his “Rules For The Discernment Of Spirits,” he addresses the issue of consolation and desolation. “Consolation,” he wrote, is when “the soul is aroused by an interior movement which causes it to be inflamed with love of its creator and Lord, and consequently can love no created thing on the face of the earth for its own sake, but only in the Creator of all things.” (Anthony Mottola, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1964, p. 129).

    “Desolation,” in stark contrast to “consolation”, he defined as the “darkness of the soul, turmoil of the mind, inclination to low and earthly things, restlessness resulting from many disturbances and temptations which lead to loss of faith, loss of hope, and loss of love. It is also desolation when a soul finds itself completely apathetic, tepid, sad, and separated as it were, from its Creator and Lord” (Spiritual Exercises, p. 130).

  2. Ditto what Lori said. I enjoy your varied blog too. To me when you vary it, you seem more human (not that you are inhuman in any form!) to me. Plus it feeds my ADD – lol.

  3. Wisdom becomes knowledge when it is personal experience

    I dunno. As platitudes go, that’s really not that bad. After all, what do you expect from a tea bag?

    But my theory is that you can tell that a phrase doesn’t really mean anything if you can switch the nouns around and it still makes just as much sense. Kind of like this:

    Knowledge becomes personal experience when it is wisdom

    Personal experience becomes wisdom when it is knowledge

    So, I guess you’re right, since this one certainly qualifies.

  4. Interesting, Lori. I wonder if maybe Kemble’s title came from St. Ignatius? It does say in one of her journals that she read him.

    I’m fine with hearing/reading things outside of my personal theology.

    Thanks, Leroy. You feed my distractability.

    This post came across as kind of an apology for my blog, I guess. That’s what my husband said anyway.

  5. I concur with the other commentators – I like all (or nearly all) of your posts, and that’s because you’re always insightful.

    I find it interesting that you were thinking from the perspective of an historian or cultural critic even during your ordeal in the hospital. That suggests to me that you’re constantly trying to make sense of your experience within a much larger framework, and against the backdrop of certain important questions, than maybe most people do. And of course, that’s part of what makes your writing insightful.

    I cannot resist adding: i have no idea what a or the ‘discourse of pregnancy’ is, but I absolutely hate that phrase. I think it should be banished from academic writing and especially banished from English and Comp Lit departments.

  6. I can totally relate to what you said about viewing the world and your own experience as a (in my case, former) historian — or an historian, as per our conversation the other night 🙂

    Have you read Landscape For A Good Woman by Carolyn Steedman? I had it assigned about four times in grad school. It is a memoir written by an historian as an historian. Each time I read it, I got something new

  7. Niobe, Good theory. I’m going to do that with phrases from now on.

    I was thinking of changing it to, “Knowledge becomes wisdom when it is personal experience.” That makes more sense, but is equally flat.

    The only bit of advice I’ve every taken from a fortune cookie or a tea bag sort of thing was when I got one that said, “Hug the person across from you.” But still I didn’t appreciate the assumption that I needed to be told to do that.

  8. I just got the same Yogi tea tab and refused to believe it as well. It would be a slightly more believable “fortune” if it had read “Knowledge becomes wisdom…”. Good to know I’m not the only one out there that’s gotten this tab and realized how nonsensical it is.

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