Saturday, January 1, 2011

But you already knew that

Persons you know and persons you scarcely know at all often offer you tidbits of information.  After all, humans evolved to communicate.  Even those who have settled into catatonic fits are offering information of a sort (that they do not wish to be disturbed; they are already disturbed enough, thank you).  In similar fashion, individuals you know or complete strangers will offer you tidbits of information, attaching to it the disclosure that you probably already know the information.

There you are, with another duality:  things you know and things you don't know.

Most of what you have learned has come to you from an assortment of individuals you know and those you scarcely know at all, a fact that has impressed itself on you over the years to the point where you take more time than you had to give ear to strangers.  In the process, you have come to the equivalent of researching the information you get from friends and acquaintances, surely to verify it but also to make sure you have gotten the full impact of it.  There is something dangerously comfortable about getting information from friends; you may quit acquiring before the full import sinks in or your fine-tuning of cynicism kicks in with qualifying questions, so eager are you to trust and enjoy your friends.

You are less lenient with strangers, more apt to take the What-do-they-know approach, possibly robbing yourself of useful information. (You do often get good ideas for story from the behavior of strangers (although to tell the absolute truth, you find you have to reinvent these strangers as friends).

The more existential questions come when you ask yourself how many times do you have to hear something you already know before you accept it as a viable working hypothesis?  Is it better to hear the truth from a stranger or from a friend?  Are you more likely to take kindly the praise or honest criticism of a stranger than you are from a friend?

You probably already know the answers to these questions; you will probably wonder whatever could you have been thinking when, at some time in the future, you readdress these questions.

In similar fashion, one of your tropes given to friends as casually as check stand coupons at a supermarket are given to you--You saved six dollars, Mr.--er, Lowenkopf, and I present you with this coupon for a discount on your next purchase of Pampers.--is, "But you already knew that."  Playing the irony card.

We are a species ideally suited for duality.  It is impossible for us to remember AND act upon all the things we already know.  It is just as likely that we will smack the butt of a hand against the forehead some time soon in the newly hatched year, a theatrical gesture to demonstrate the ultimate self critique, I should have known that.

But you already knew that.

(Thanks, Storm Dweller.)

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