#Woolfalong:’Ignorance is bliss, Mr Ramsey, Ignorance is bliss!

*I wrote this a while ago after reading Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse but never got round to posting it.  Having re-read To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway very recently, I thought I’d skip those and hop on the #Woolfalong wagon (hosted by heavenali) next month, but this is me throwing my hat in the ring anyway, even if it’s a teensy bit of a cheat!

To the lighthouse 1

I find Mr Ramsey infuriating. Dedicating one’s life to the pursuit of science is admirable, but why does it always seem to go hand in hand with an entitlement to exact smug ruination on everybody else’s day? Having dashed the hopes of his son James, who longs to go to the lighthouse, Mr Ramsey smiles

not only with the pleasure of disillusioning his son and casting ridicule upon his wife…. but also with some secret conceit at his own accuracy of judgement. What he said was true. It was always true. He was incapable of untruth; never tampered with a fact; never altered a disagreeable word to suit the pleasure or convenience of any mortal being, least of all his children, who ….. should be aware from childhood that life is difficult.

Mr Ramsey sounds like the sort who only reads factual books, believing fiction to be a waste of time. For him, Christmas is no more than a tacky be-tinseled lie, and children should be availed of the fact as early as possible. Mr Ramsey values truth, but to the cost of himself and that of his family, he cares nothing for imagination.

I’m not one for religion myself, but I cringe at the arrogance of those who clearly didn’t get the memo about mutual respect for those holding different beliefs or opinions. Not content to have life, the universe and everything wrapped up and peer-reviewed, the triumphant mockery of those who hold religious beliefs, use alternative medicine, think there might be something in astrology, etc.. seems to have become a popular pastime in recent times amongst the scientific community. You have to wonder, is knowing it all, not enough?

Personally, I think that what the Mr Ramseys of this world are missing is the power and importance of story to our understanding of the human experience. Without novels, cinema, theatre, ballet, opera, soap opera, drama, we are bereft. When Yann Martel spoke about his book ‘The Life of Pi’ on Radio 4 some time ago, he said that he wrote the two contrasting versions of Pi’s story to show the value of the ‘mystical’ as a colourful, creative, more bearable ‘telling’ of this life, compared to the stark, miserable, hopelessness of existence without the numinous. Indeed, life without stories is bleak.


Put another way, while what he did was wrong, who can really blame Cypher for wanting to escape the horrors of reality and return to the comfortable delusion of The Matrix?

You can see my other posts on To The Lighthouse here and here, and if you want to see Virginia Woolf hanging out with Marcel Proust at the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley, you can see that here.