“Schopenhauer was right.” Right about what? The statement seemed simple and declarative, but to what end? As I pored over the newly acquired books from the Wilson library, the first thing to occur to me was the futility of my attempt to see for myself the rightness or wrongness of Schopenhauer. Having never explored philosophy prior to this occasion, I found myself hopelessly mired in its heavy, slushy esotericism. Noumenon? A priori? Thing – In – Itself? Even the term “phenomenon” didn’t seem to correspond with the Webster definition of which I was familiar. I couldn’t imagine what this Schopenhauer could possibly be right about, and worse yet, now I was acutely aware of the inadequacy of my secondary education as a preparatory step toward higher learning. My vocabulary was poor; my thoughts rudimentary; my spirits low. No sooner had I checked out the World As Will And Representation than it joined the clumping of books on the floor of my bedroom; books I had similarly fancied briefly and now disregarded and all certainly well overdue.
A month after my cursory dalliance with Schopenhauer, I was invited to a “lecture” given by a pentecostal speaker named Charles D___. Being a college freshman and exceedingly impressionable – and out there seeking many, many impressions – I attended without hesitation. This was a trippy experience! Mr. D___ was a man of Indian descent, short and wide as his stature. He had bulbous, brown eyes and large, bovine nostrils that flared wildly as he fomented a holy furor in the room that evening. People all around me convulsed spasmodically with each and every rhetorical cue delivered by Mr. D___. Occasionally, he’d reach back for that little extra and come out rushing the crowd hurling scriptural heat and spuming spittle. It was riotous (no, I didn’t misspell righteous)! What I remember most from that evening was a moment he looked in my direction. He marked me because I didn’t shake violently nor twaddle as some exorcised cantonese seraph. And as he stared me down, he buffaloed his body toward me, and exclaimed “Philosophy was wrong!” Initially, I was startled, and then bewildered. I knew nothing about philosophy, yet somehow he saw in me that damnable curiosity which had prompted the visit to the library in the prior month. Well roared, lion!
So Schopenhauer was right, but philosophy was wrong? Yes, you guessed it. It was time for me to grab that book off my bedroom floor and dig into it earnestly….with a dictionary, and a copy of the spring semester class schedule. Hmmm….Modern Philosophy 101 sounded intriguing.