Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Ludacris Celebration of Ignorance

I stumbled across an email this weekend where I was apologizing for failing to answer a question in a way that totally suited the person asking the question. I explained to this person that my response was unacceptable in their eyes simply because I lacked the necessary knowledge in the subject area to know my answer was inadequate. I really tried to answer the question; I just didn’t have enough knowledge to ‘get there.’

I actually did want to know much more about the particular subject, so I phrased my explanation this way, “It may seem odd to you, but I am glad the answer is inadequate because it makes me aware that I have a great deal to learn. In a sense, I suppose I am celebrating my own ignorance.”

As we go along through life we so often think we need to know all things, or at least pretend that we do, and then hope like hell no one figures out that we do not. In the age of rapid information transfer we live in, it gets more difficult all the time to absorb the constant onslaught of information and deal with the default idea that we should know all things. I find myself frustrated occasionally that people around me know all about a particular subject, while I remain silent in embarrassment that I have never even heard of the subject. For the longest time, I wondered what the heck a blackberry was; the non-fruit type I mean.

I think more often lately I have fallen back onto this idea that it is not really so bad to not know all things that others might know. For example, take the rap artist Ludacris. Ludacris appeared in concert at my alma mater last week. There was a great deal of controversy and hand wringing about his appearance as a result of his controversial lyrics. And yet, when I discussed this with friends, many looked at me in puzzlement and said “Who is Ludicrus?”

And if you have read here very long and know my ‘personality’ you will know that was a very wide opening through which to drive my sarcastic wit.

I am rather glad actually that Ludicrus is invisible to so many.

I think when we truly want to know something, and we begin to zero in on learning or understanding it, we can truly come to value our ignorance in a way. Without the early ignorance, we would have no goals or inspiration to know more. And so in the oddest of twists a paradox emerges here. The paradox peaking over my shoulder today is that our ignorance can be celebrated, if only because it offers us the opportunity for it be overcome. And certainly, at the least, our ignorance does not have to be shaming, but merely a transitory phase, or in the case of Ludicrus, merely a blessing.

When we understand this, then perhaps we can all quit pretending that we know all the things we do not?
Postscript: And oh yeah, I am not particularly picking on Ludacris here. His art belongs to him and we all get to decide about consuming his art. What I mean by 'the blessing' thing is that his power to influence has limits and that I believe is true (and good) for us all.
I am a fan of the movie 'Crash'. For many years I have had a love/hate relationship with the film industry, but I felt life was accurately portrayed in that movie and I applauded it's success.


lynilu said...

Well, finally something I know about . . . not knowing enough! I've long been a fan of acknowledging what I don't know. It is an opportunity to learn, as you reflect. I like to learn new things. When my kids asked something I didn’t know, we looked it up. When I supervised groups of professionals, I didn’t try to be the expert. I sought out the knowledge or opened it to discussion in the group.

I’m a bright person, but I don’t kid myself or anyone else about the vast amount that Isn’t available in my knowledge base. I learned at a rather young age that pretending to know what I do not only leaves me in the position of having much greater embarrassment when I’m exposed. Frankly, I don’t ever want to be seen as the “be all, end all” in life. It limits growth, not just for me, but for all who are involved, and it truly is frightening to think that a life altering decision might be based on my faulty knowledge. I’ve been known to be wrong. More times than I wish to remember. It is a relief to be able to say, “Tell me more, and then let’s process that.” I’m thinking back just a few weeks, seven, to the time when my bank account was breached. Where might I have been if I relied only on my own knowledge to deal with that without drawing from the pool including you, my son-in-law, son, the banker, the police, etc.

No, I like being free to be a sponge. Throw some knowledge at me and watch me soak it up!

Jenn said...

I love that I don't know everything. I also love the feeling of learning something new...really learning it. Whenever I hear myself say 'I don't know.'...I believe it's an opportunity.

Whereas, The Idiot...he knows everything so, alas, we were not meant to be.

Enemy of the Republic said...

Can't say I know much about Ludacris, but he was good in Crash. As for not knowing something, we all fall in that group. I often enjoy ignorance because knowledge makes me responsible and aware. Eve and Adam didn't put on those fig leaves as fashion statements.

Jenn said...

I forgot to say - one of the sayings we have in my family is "Well...I can sure tell you what not to do." Even though it means we haven't got it all figured makes me chuckle whenever any one of us says it.

Seven said...

Thanks for the thorough response. I guess most of us do look at learning new things as an opportunity, at least I hope so. Unfortunately, there are some people that get caught in the contest of 'knowing more than others, and that leads them into the trap, does it not?

Yes, I'm afraid your Idiot is caught in the trap described. Too often we are afraid to simply say "someone may know much more about this than I do, but I will pay close attention and let you lead." For the Idiot, this is too much relinquishing of control, falling outside his acceptable self-imposed boundaries, leading ultimately to failure after failure in his life. Sadly, all this is because he falsely believes he knows so much more than anyone else.
And in keeping with your family's phrasing, I bet you think twice about marrying another control freak, eh? Hugs.

Mrs. Enemy,
An 'oh so wise' reading between the lines. As always. And it brings to mind the old adage "ignorance is bliss." I will pray tonight that ignorance might be my unrealized blessing. But, on the other hand I suppose it is so true for us all, without a prayer one.

Ilias- said...

I really did at one time believe that people wouldn't like me for not knowing what _____ was. I imagine that I learned to be more concerned with what others thought of me than what I thought of me. And actually I hadn't thought of me in a long long time. when I finally did, and really thought about me... I just devised a plan to ask about something when a) I didn't know what it was/what was being discussed. b) cared enough to involve myself. c) felt like it was appropriate enough to say what is _____?
The plan has worked beautifully. I learn, save myself undue embarassment and don't feel left out. :^)
Is that totally ludacrus or what? I learned to do that when I lived near Mianus.

Shy Gal said...

I feel like the more I learn the less I know... which is another paradox by golly.

I learn that there is MORE that I don't know.

When I start to study some area of interest, it opens up a whole body of knowledge for me that I didn't know existed at the outset.

It's like rolling an iceberg over.

Seven said...

Indeed that is healthy. I think the best teachers are the ones like yourself that understand what you have to give and let the student find for themselves what we can't actually teach them. And in the process I have found the teacher can be taught.

Ms Little?
So true.... and this 'rolling over an iceberg' phrase is good. You may consider it borrowed. I will use it! :)

Rick said...

I'm missing something. People expect it of me and I hate to disappoint.

Ludacris was in Crash? He's a rapper? Great movie.

Seven said...

Leonard Leonard,
You are probably the exception to this post. I am confident you do know all things; including nose hair removal procedures! I liked Crash also; and that surprised me. I was expecting the typical Hollywood race card drivel and was wrong.

Shy Gal said...

How did you guess my secret identity?! I was using a disguise and everything.

You have permission to use the iceberg analogy with my blessings.

Later days!

patti_cake said...

I still have not saw Crash but definitely want to. I'm a fan of Ludacris.. and Lil' Jon etc. bet you didn't guess that didya?
I love learning new things... and sometimes playing the dumb femal reaps hidden rewards....
I know, oh so sexist but sometimes oh-so FUN.
I want you to blog about "hysterical societies" please.... pretty ple ase.. with sugar on top! *bats eyelashes*

Seven said...

Yes, I will do this Hysterical Society thing..jus fur u...*flexing muscles*