>The Value of Experience


“Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.”
-George Bernard Shaw, The Revolutionist’s Handbook and Pocket Companion, “Man and Superman”

Unless I am wrong, which I often am, this means that the wisest men are the men who are most willing. Which means that those who have tried the most drugs, had the most lurid sexual adventures, and have lived most unlawfully are the wisest. Surely this is not what Shaw meant? Or is it?

Central to the Shavian paradigm is the idea that man wants to better himself. So all of the experience that can, and does, benefit man will also enlarge his wisdom, right? Take hard drugs for example. The willingness to encounter alternate states of mind must be worth something, but not to the point of detriment. Robbing banks would be applauded by Socialist Shaw, but if it endangered your life, which it most likely would unless you were a professional, the act would be condemned.

It seems then that we, and I, Daniel Adler especially, have to strike a balance between breaking down our most rational thoughts and fears, and understanding what will harm our being in the long run. In other words, as long as you try what comes your way at least once, you won’t be lame.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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