Scott Meyer, Off to Be the Wizard

“Nobody has all the answers, because all the best answers generate more questions.”

After making it a point to read at least a book a month, I turned to my friends on Facebook and Twitter for some suggestions. I was looking for some lighthearted and decidedly geeky fare along the same lines of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. One friend said I should read Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer and it turned out to be radically different than what I had first anticipated.

Without spoiling too much, a young geek discovers a computer file that can directly manipulate reality. He pads his checking account and discovers how to teleport. He also travels back in time to England in the Middle Ages where he meets several other people who have discovered the same file and are posing as wizards. It’s weird.

The line cited above can be taken completely out of context and still make perfect sense in today’s reality. You should always be wary of anyone who claims to know everything, because that is inherently impossible. The not-so-subtle irony is that the people who know very little are the ones who tend to be more confident in their knowledge, whereas the people who know much more can be much more skeptical or unsure of even their own claims.

The current political climate can certainly speak to that.

Every time you unearth a profound answer to your profound question, all you end up doing is generating more questions. Do you remember Mindy from the cartoon series Animaniacs? Remember how she would incessantly follow up with another “why?” each time she received another answer? It’s exactly like that. It’s because the more you know, the more you realize how little you know. And the more questions you’ll have.

We think that we exist in a “real” reality. We think that we are these independently-thinking bags of flesh and we have the free will to interact with the “real” world around us. But what if we’re nothing more but lines of code in an elaborate computer program? And if so, why does such a program exist? Who created it? Who is using it? And why did they choose Scott Meyer to tell us about it in a geeky novel series?

Perhaps we’ll never know, but at least we can ask.

Image credit: Adapted from image by Missy Meyer, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia