Looking for Ideas

| July 11, 2010

I just came across this poem:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and the daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot

visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them

like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Kahlil Gibran


It reminds me of the Paula Poundstone bit about why adults are always asking children what they want to be when they grow up—because they are looking for ideas.

What if education amounts to a covert dream factory for adults? And curriculum our best guess at what we should have learned better ourselves? “If you were to know all of this, and could be anything you want, what would that allow me to feel?”

Is it not in this sense that we have to imagine the otherwise inexplicable central postulate of The Matrix: that the machine harvests humans for their energy surplus? Would not these unproductive humans be reduced in the most fundamental way to consumers? A costly do-nothing machine. So what do they generate if not the content of the very illusion that keeps them occupied? The machine, encountering the limits of its own dreams, extends it prosthetically through it’s human harvest. A dream content generator.

Conversely, if we took Gibran’s poem as axiomatic—that is, if we did not work the angle, but embraced it—would we have anything resembling schools?