I was asked again today about what mostly informs my basic likes and dislikes the most. I usually mention education and music when I am asked similar questions. I consider my formal education to be one of the biggest gifts of my adult life and one that daily informs how I experience quatidianity. Possessing a doctorate degree means different things to different people, to me, among other other things, it means having an increased appreciation of the kinds of arts I tend to like naturally. As an adolescent I knew I liked Verdi but I couldn't quite say why.
While a Verdi opera meant one thing to me then, it means much more in my formally informed adulthood. Education allows one to not only have standards of art appreciation but, most importantly, to have the strength to stand by them. And art appreciation rarely does not apply to life. Cognitive knowledge informs experiential knowledge very well. And if a person could invest in one thing of lasting worth it would be formal education. I illustrate, when I would go to rock shows when I was still in school I would experience them differently. I remember noting in one of my grad school courses the following: "well, literary theory is ruining the enjoyment factor of a fundamentally simple art experience. I keep having all of these questions all of a sudden."
Being a more informed audience member, however, is something I appreciate more as it is better for me in the long run. Arts don't exist to simply give us access to escapism. They exist, I tend to think, so that we can think more, deeper, and better about ourselves. Entertainment has longer lasting effects this way. And such effects, I would add, are worth not only keeping but, most importantly, preserving. Much can get in the way of one's pursuit, education, however, is there to comfort you when much else might not. Education, true education, promotes self-sufficiency and independence and I cannot think of many other things in life that can quite do the same. So, today, my special tip of the hat goes to higher education and the beautiful things it affords us. It is hard work and, at times, infernal but oh-so-worth it as in the process of getting to know more about the world we get to know more about ourselves. What is that psychological Socratic phrase one hears all the time, i.e., 'an unexamined life is not worth living?'