Thursday, December 20, 2018

daring NOT to discover

The drive to know, to unravel, to understand, to explain and to generally tuck what was once unknown the belt of the known ... I suppose it's better than kicking baby robins. And yet ...

Was there ever a human being who died and who didn't join the majority freighted by one thing or another s/he did't know? Little or large, no different.

For example, my mind stumbles on the explanation or etymology of the Arizona city Tucson. Yes, Wikipedia can lead me by the nose, but there is something mysterious about the "cs" in the midst of it all. What a strange configuration of letters. I think I will probably never be at ease with it. On the other hand, why should I be? Is knowing something somehow better than not-knowing it?

Once upon a time, if flagging memory serves, there was a front-page New York Times story about an old wooden box unearthed in Japan. Inside the box was another box -- one that bore (not sure of this) a royal seal and a note that said, in essence, "don't open this box." What could possibly be so important that future generations should be warned against meddling so many years later?

The punch line on this tale left me marveling: Japanese scholars or other poohbahs made their decision: They would follow the instructions in the note and not open the box. Who has such courage? Don't think of a purple cow. Why would it be better to know -- more elevated,  crucial, satisfying and savvy -- to disregard whatever it was that compelled the writer to tack on his or her version of a Post-It?

"Ignorance is bliss," the slick and savvy mind chides derisively.

But is that any more true than imagining that a lack of ignorance can somehow fill in the restless abyss?

Do I know more when I know more? Do I know less when I know less? Do I know less when I know less or less when I know more? And which capacity deserves elevation? Take self-congratulation out of the equation and what is left ....?

More or less?

The Japanese, of course, are not immune: Despite a WWII constitution banning implements of war, they are now sneaking up on replenishing their aircraft carrier supplies.

More is more, after all, and less is less.


  1. Confusing knowledge and wisdoms is an oldie but goodie. Let’s not go down that path.

    As ever, it’s better to be able to reason when the mind is calm and clear than when agitated and or overloaded.

    Some people remember more, some remember less. “Why?” Is a very relevant question.

    Evidently, it’s like any other skill, some people are born athletes or geniuses (some both), some have average abilities, some below average, etc.

    From ancient times some have studied memory and have learned and used mnemonic techniques. The study and use of mnemonics is useful endeavor needing continuous study and practice.

    For example See

    Junior high school math students and medical student are among those who keep some mnemonic devices alive.

    The current modern study of memory by neuro-scientists and psychologists isn’t as practical for those not afflicted by “conditions.” But might be useful to us as we age. Those recommendations also need discipline. And yet, discipline too is a quality that itself may diminish with age. When we’re too late, Poor Us!

    One important aid is availing oneself of the Internet via computers, tablets and cell phones as well as the nascent voice activated AI’s. (Alexa on the Amazon Echo System, via “Hey Google” on the Google Home System, SIRI on the Apple Platform, Cortana on the MicroSoft System as well as who know how many others underdevelopment in universities and corporate labs.)

    I have wondered about self-fulfilling attitudes negative and positive.

  2. My feeling is that the more you "know" these days, the more you realise you know very little.

    There is so much deception widespread, so many lies told, that it's practically impossible to figure out conclusively what the facts truly are, even about the most fundamental tenets of knowledge.

    For this reason alone, I take nothing - absolutely nothing - that comes from the outside for granted. Hell, not even the shape and form of the Earth I take for granted anymore. Round or flat, dense or hollow, much larger that what is stated... Who really knows?... Who cares?...

    It makes me wonder what is the point of it at all, living and navigating from one lie to another. What a sad way of living. So futile. Best to ignore it all and just do and live the best we can, knowing you will probably die as ignorant as the day you were born about what is real and fact and what is not.

    1. A classic case of epistemological depression.
      Had a Philosphy Professor tell me he had to go to therapy.
      Therapist told him to appreciate the little things just using his five senses.

    2. Well, it is kind of depressing living in a world where problems are (not) solved killing the people you might appreciate the little things with... Not sure what a therapist might say to that. So I just stick to Krishnamurti's vision that is not a sign of health to feel adjusted to a sick society.

      That said, I rather save therapists from doing therapy with me. I'm learning to live with it.

      Ignorance is bliss.

      Have a good Christmas Andy.