Dearth, death of intellectualism among youths (2)

By Emmanuel Ezeagwu   |   08 September 2015   |   11:31 pm  

University-KK-CopyHOWEVER, it is worth adding that the intellectual not only does this, he craves it and enjoys it. To him, it is more than pleasure of any other sort. He lives it, acts it, and sleeps it until he dies in it.

Little wonder why Aldous Huxley said: ‘An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.’ Let me explain that sex is a synecdoche because according to Freud it represents man’s basic drives and desires, the primary motivation for all things in life.

Newton was an intellectual that sometimes he forgot his earthly meal. And it was more or less so with Pythagoras, Socrates, Luther, Galileo, and many other intellectuals, that Emerson, previously quoted, described them as ‘pure…spirits that…took flesh.’ Such was the level of moral purity, moderation and self-discipline of these intellectuals that they meddled not with trifling everyday affairs to which almost every young person today is a slave.

I have discovered much to my dismay that these days these things which constitute the inconsequential for the intellectuals of old are the things that are not only endemic (this itself is pardonable), but also promoted.

Now, to set things clear, I do not advocate asceticism (far be it) that some of the ancient intellectuals and thinkers more or less practised, like Emerson’s Tolstroy or any other mortal who dared to tread that line. I cannot myself be found even near its border for all the treasures of the world, which is indeed ironic. What I say is let there be moderation. A good old-fashioned temperance would do. I demand why so much importance has been put on the unimportant.

Now, I very well understand that these are basic drives or desires like my friend Freud said, but I must ask, permit me: These are just carnal needs, what of the moral needs? These are sensual, what of the sensuous? There is no way and no reason why sexuality should predominate over morality. The pursuit of the basic needs and desires of man which we agree is the primary motivation of living things should not for any reason be the chief and foremost motivation in man. To be primary does not imply to be prime. Other animals are not endowed with morality, rationality and other qualities of the mind which man possesses. It is quite understandable that animals are driven by these needs, but in humans reason supersedes. And this is regardless of whether the needs can be postponed, like sexual gratification or not postponed, like hunger. And so Mr. Freud, all those motivations of living things which nature has blessed us with, depending on what angle it is looked at, should remain foremost and primary for other animals and infant humans, but foundational and not primary for adults and juveniles old enough to reason and discern social norms.

What we see these days (some with bright eyes, some of us with wet eyes) is the unwholesome proliferation of non-intellectual engagements. The ethos of the society has changed. In the kind of society we live in today non-stop merry-making synonymous to non-academic practices rule supreme in the air.

No longer do young people read books, or involve in intellectually stimulating activities, instead they are in a rush for seeking pleasure and fulfilment through loose living, pornography, films, music, reveries, drugs, intoxicating drinks, cultism, just to name a few. And this is why students go through unseemly means to pass examinations, and to make quick money at all costs to continue in their vices. As a result of these, the society is deluged with people who cannot make meaningful contributions to nation building and development — people who, otherwise, should be the young minds and brains fuelling the nation’s drive for development as our forefathers and current elders envisaged.

Looking at the youth of the modern generation you can scarcely find an intellectual or an intellectual in the making. It is hard to point to one of our youths, even in our schools and say, ‘There, I see another Socrates’, or any other philosopher; or to look at another and remark, ‘Oh, he’ll make another Achebe,’ or Okigbo, or Soyinka, or Aboyade, Duddly, or any other person who has masterfully and artistically worded in the English Language; or to eye another Ken Saro-Wiwa or any other political activist of his calibre. It is impossible to notice fine educationists like Alvan Ikoku, or a scientists like Philip Emeagwali or Onabamiro.

In the words of a friend: ‘The world is getting stupider’ and the youth, as it were, are at the very forefront. I wonder, dear friends, what will become of the world, nay our Nigeria when in the near future everybody walks the streets with nothing on save his or her Apple earphone, and every young male drives his play tool into any willing hole at the slightest impulse. I wonder what development will be when the brains are dulled out as a result of underuse as the society keeps endorsing and promoting irrationality and idiocy.

As today’s youths become more materialistic, fashionable, rich, lacking in sound reasoning and proper education, and sex crazed, while the brilliant ones are derided as old-fashioned and boring, we might be on the verge of breeding out intellectualism from the human race. We consider and celebrate the youth and intellectualism today. But I think we should rather brood over this: What we are celebrating today is it not indeed ailing and, by this time tomorrow, might be dead?

• Concluded.

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