Part jeremiad, part humanist plea, Nordon’s essay is the lively sally of a cultural critic against the growth of an ignorance itself wrought, paradoxically, by the heedless pursuit of learning. Quentin Faucompré’s illustrations accompany Nordon’s exploration of a society where knowledge seems, like any other commodity, to bow only to the law of accumulation.
Nordon pursues one by one the garden paths down which the cult of knowledge has led us: divisive specialization among the educated, depleted general knowledge in the average individual, the disintegration of the humanist dream to unite sciences and humanities, technology and philosophy, in a single beneficent vision of the world. He charts the wholesale abuse of statistics, and their instrumentality in debasing political as well as academic discourse. Calling upon such diverse authors as Boethius, Herman Melville, and Simone de Beauvoir, Nordon trenchantly dissects our society’s addiction to empty facts.