The Unknown is Waiting
I know that I know nothing (but in Greek)
-Socrates (470-399 BC)
Our Future is Reflective in our Past; Light Permitting. Another planksip Möbius
The Unknown is Waiting
There we go.
Alright, let’s try and figure out what in the world this reactionary Nixon era troglodyte that managed to finagle his way into a cabinet position during a twenty-first century political administration was doting on about with this here mammoth of a philosophical treatise. Honestly, for a certified war criminal and downright humanoid demon from the inner layers of Hell, old man Donnie might have been onto something here. Regardless of whatever merit there may be in what he has said, though, and before I give him his due credit for articulating such a nuanced, complex viewpoint, it is highly important to note that Donald Rumsfeld was so evil a man that he makes Donald Trump look like Donald Osmond in comparison. I mean, this is a guy who oversaw one of most egregious, despicable violations of human rights in the history of United States military operations - the inhumane treatment of those who were being detained at the Abu Ghraib prison complex in Iraq, in which prisoners were tortured, raped, sodomized, and, in some cases, outright murdered. Yes, murdered. In cold blood.
Strangely, the day before the attacks of September 11th, Donald Rumsfeld announced that the Pentagon had no idea what it had just done with about $2.3 trillion dollars (but it swears that it had seen it around somewhere...if only it could remember where). Then, the next day, the Pentagon blew up. Or, rather, a plane hit it. I think so. I am not sure, to be honest. There is no footage of a plane hitting the Pentagon.
Do with that information what you will.
Essentially, what Reinhard Heydr- I mean...ahem...Donald Rumsfeld was attempting to convey here was this: You can make lasagna. You know you can do this. And you also know that you do not know how to make lasagna that actually tastes good. But what you don’t know is that you are able to make ziti that is the bomb diggity, dawg, and you also don’t know that you don’t know how to speak Zoerkian, or that Zoerkian is a language, or that there is an entire galaxy out there, about ten trillion lightyears to the south of this one, where the only inhabitants are some sort of strange salamander and gerbil hybrid called the fidloon trimpet that, for some reason, speaks fluent Creole and knows how to play Egyptian rat screw.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Not in a “it is what it is” kind of acceptance way - I mean you literally are incapable of knowing that there is an entire universe of information out there that you don’t even know exists. The stuff that you “don’t know” - that is only the stuff that you are aware of exists, but have not yet figured out. That means that you still have the ability to figure it out at some point. Shoot, I mean, I don’t know Cantonese - but with enough hard work and determination, I could be wowing everybody I meet from the southern mainland with my eloquent emulation of their mother tongue. It just takes focus, and making time. You can literally do anything you want in this life. I know I sound like a poster right now but, I mean, it is all true. You really can do whatever you want in this life.
Ain’t life grand, y’all?
Back to my main point...which is - oh, yes! You can, ultimately, learn to master the things that you don’t know. I mean, why would you not be able to do this? You have free will, dude. So the things that you know that you don’t know, well, knowing about them alone is already half the battle fought, kid. You are well on your way to tossing these things in the “known” category, and being able to move on with your life, without having to dwell on the fact that you could have figured something out but didn’t because you were content with just “not knowing”. In essence, ultimately, at the end of the day (got any more transitions? I’m all out, jack) all of that just comes down to your willingness to put some effort into learning a new thing. It is most certainly attainable, though. Believe me - I just watched a French movie (Tirez sur le Pianiste, one of the finest films ever made in my estimation - directed by the legendary Francois Truffaut) with Spanish subtitles, two languages that I have only really just started learning (I took some Spanish in high school, but lord knows I was a much...simpler...man at that time in my life - not as concerned with book learning as I was with booking one way tickets to the dean’s office) and I actually understood pretty much all of it! I was legitimately astounded at how coherent my understanding of the plot was, or at least how clear it all seemed to me at the time. Who knows, though; I’ll have to watch it in English to confirm whether or not I actually picked up on what was going on or if I just wasted a whole lot of time listening to and reading a whole bunch of words I didn’t know, time which could have perhaps been more valuably spent composing an indie folk album, or telling my loved ones that I appreciate them.
Oh well. Opportunity cost is an entirely different beast - one that I am sure we will tackle at some point during our meanderings into the complex phenomena that characterize human existence. I am definitely looking forward to discussing it at some point, as it is an extremely important concept to be aware of that can be applied to virtually any situation. But this article is not about opportunity cost; this article is about the unknown. The opportunity cost has a tinge of the unknown baked into its crust, but, as I said, it is ultimately a completely separate animal. We will cross that bridge when we get there (beast, bridge...what’s the difference, man?).
None of this matters.
Oh quit being such a nihilist, kid.
Sigh...nihilists. They’re the worst.
Wait, who are you?
Really? We’ve done this before.
Yes. Several times, man.
Huh. Well, I guess I must have forgotten.
Of course you did. You’re not real.
Oh, good lord! Must we go over this every single time?
I’m not real?
Yeah, dude. You’re not.
So...what am I, then?
You’re just words on a page, mate.
I type, you appear. I delete, you disappear.
I really do not know how to make this any clearer to you, bro.
Jesus, dude - am I going to have to pull a Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction?
Because I totally will. Don’t make me do it.
Okay, okay. I won’t say it again.
Say what again?
I just said I wouldn’t say it.
Dude, what the h- AHHHHH! Stop!
I warned you, man.
Yeah but that wasn’t fair! You totally roped me into that. That was a set
up, a sting, a ruse - entrapment, I tell you!
Tell it to the judge, kid.
I can’t. I’m not real. Remember?
You’re not real?
You just told me I wasn’t real!
Then how are we talking right now?
We’re not talking! I’m not real. None of this is actually happening. You are giving off the illusion that you’re involved in a conversation right now so you can put off finishing this article.
Huh? What? No! Of course not! I would never - how dare you?!?
You’re still doing it.
I mean, goodness gracious. You must have some nerve, kid. Accusing me of wasting people’s precious time with mindless flapdoodle. What gives you the right to dish out such powerful thought torpedoes?
“Thought torpedoes”? You’re losing it, man.
You didn’t like that one?
Nobody is going to like it. You are trying way too hard to be clever.
It isn’t working?
It only works if you don’t try. Remember what Yoda said?
There is no try.
I don’t know. Finish the article, I guess.
Is it just me or did this whole thing just turn into some sort of one man Waiting For Godot reboot? It can’t just be me. But, you see, this is a perfect example of what I am talking about when it comes to the unknown. I have no idea where my mind is going to go when I set out to write these articles. It all starts with a title and a quote. And then, from there, I pretty much just freestyle the whole thing.
Off the dome.
Now, this is a particularly risky endeavor, as I am a horrible freestyler. When I b on tha mic, I prefer to kick a written. But, that’s because I’m a writer. However, this is a great exercise in delving into the unknown, which I am all about these days. At this point, I am pretty aware of what I know, and kind of just need to maintain my level of understanding of these things. As far as what I don’t know - well, I am either working on throwing those into the “known” category, or have decided that they are not worth the time and effort necessary to comprehend them. Maybe that is because I am stupid, maybe it is because I am lazy. Personally, I think it is actually a pretty smart thing to do. Know what is worth your time. That is true knowledge. And knowledge, as we all know because of KRS-One, reigns supreme over nearly everything. That, and oats.
Yes, folks. Oats are far more than a crucial component of a heart healthy breakfast - they are the key to the survival of our species. Oats are a way of life. Oats are our only hope.
Ultimately, though, none of us really know anything at all, in the grand scheme of things. I believe this was all put in a much clearer, much easier to understand, much groovier, and much easier to bust a move (and perhaps something else) to way by none other than the inimitable Jimi Hendrix, performing with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox as the Band Of Gypsys at the time, in the song that opened up their iconic New Year’s 1970 performance at the Fillmore East in New York City (and also the song that opens up my daily performance on Planet Earth by virtue of being my alarm):
Inspired by Carl Sagan (1934-1996)'s quote, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.". ↩︎
Inspired by Socrates (470-399 BC)'s quote, "I know that I know nothing (but in Greek)". The titled responsion is "The Unknown is Waiting". ↩︎
Inspired by Donald Rumsfeld (1932- wait, really? Carl Sagan is dead but this war mongering neo fascist is still alive? Gandhi was right; there is no God, just an uncaring universe. I am pretty sure Gandhi said that. It sure sounds like something he would have said. Oh, Mahatma - lighten up, pal. What’s that? Oh...okay. I have just been informed that Mohandas K. Gandhi has been dead for over seven decades. That’s nearly four score. In fact, give it about fifteen more years, and then we will be able to say “four score and seven years ago, one of India’s most enduring social and political figures met a tragic end when he was shot and killed by a Hindu nationalist. Oh, nationalism. It never ends well. Speaking of nationalism, there’s this quote. Let us dive into it. But first, let us get out of these parentheses.)'s quote, "As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones." ↩︎