Human Ignorance and the WAG

Posted on September 12, 2018. Filed under: Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Humans are enamored of themselves, what with being the Crowns of Creation and the Smartest Things since the invention of Time.  If you are doubtful of that, just ask one of those supreme Smart Dudes wearing a name tag certifying that he* is EXPERT in something or other. He will tut-tut the pathetic displays of ignorance uttered by the Great Unwashed** all around him and, authoritatively, lift himself above such banality. He will haughtily wave it all off and deny that ignorance…

  • is humanity’s (and his own) birthright,
  • is humanity’s life force,
  • is the glue in humanity’s interactive socio-economic existence,
  • is irrevocably humanity’s destiny, and, that
  • the basis of humanity’s proclaimed preeminence is rooted in ignorance.

At birth, our bodies know more than our minds about what is going on; stimulate the lips with a warm, spongy thing and our lips reach out and clamp down on the offering. Vigorous sucking action is rewarded by introduction of food or a satisfying placebo effect. Our minds, playing catch-up, finally connect the sequence into a cause-effect routine.  Thusly, iota upon iota, ignorance is replaced with knowledge that Mind can build on.

As we play the Game of Life, it seems that, at every crossroad, ignorance greets us with a sardonic smile. Previous experience with similar problems allows us to continue our journey with little or no interruption.  Culturally instilled guides — like traffic controls in our communities — keep us moving along. At other times, situations produce more questions than solutions…  an unmarked intersection with fast-moving traffic as it were. Our stumped Minds, trying to make sense of these intellectual potholes, ask, “W… T… F...?”  This conundrum may be voiced aloud with much gusto or quietly entertained mentally.

For instance, that mandate to all life, “Go forth and multiply.” As every adolescent newbie can attest, it’s a major WTF? moment, what with new body developments and very distracting new urges. Unfortunately, adolescent information sources are most often other newbies who have discovered that, if you just sound like you know about stuff, your just-as-ignorant contemporaries will look to you as a knowing mentor. Instant social status can be attained by dispensing a plausible-sounding wild ass guess (WAG)…

…a lesson not lost on any of us. (That appraisal applies to every college-degreed Smart Dude looking to expand on his career or increase his celebrity status.)

“What the f…?” is the banner under which each of us struggles through Time. If we do not know (i.e., are ignorant of…) something, and need to clarify it, we often just make up a wild ass guess to please our egos and/or hide our resident ignorance. Or we just accept someone else’s WAG on the subject and parrot the words so we sound as knowing as the original parrot. Depending on the degree of your audience’s gullibility, a plausible WAG can save face, and, embellish your personal social standing.

A well-crafted WAG reduces the chances of being caught in gross ignorance. Spicing it up with technical or other complicated facts from other areas of accepted knowledge can give your WAG a very long life before it gets deep-sixed as total baloney (think flat Earth WAG, Earth as center of  solar system WAG, 6,000 year old Earth WAG, rotting meat creates flies WAG, blah-blah-blah ad infinitum). The WAG pedigree is as old as humanity.

Not to be forgotten is that bane of adolescent promiscuitychildren get born only to married couples. “SURPRISE, unmarried teenaged parents.  Playtime is over; life just became a very serious business.”

Being first-time parents, you realize you don’t know a lot of things. Your ignorance will stimulate the economy by your purchase of How To Books on childbirth and child care, the right bottles, formula preparation, the correct training toys, and seemingly endless expenditures for diapers and such. And, lots of pediatric visits until the kid learns it can’t put everything into its mouth. As a group, ignorant parents provide an income for a lot of providers.

High school graduates want to get a good-paying job, but, know nothing about the jobs they want. College tuition is paid to replace ignorance with (presumed) knowledge, and, those payments pay the teachers and administrators, thereby economically stimulating the educational sector.

You have irritable bowel syndrome and dandruff flakes; you are overweight and dateless. Cheer up. Just binge-watch your television for 24 hours, and, solutions to all of Life’s ills are laid out before you, and, they are only a single telephone call away from fulfillment. Or, only an office visit to your doctor. Again, your state of abject ignorance will rain money upon your chosen WAG providers.

Whatever your age when you exit Life, you will have acquired a huge store of WAGs that formed the backdrop for your perception of Reality. WAGs thrust upon you by your tenth birthday have faded in the glare of more plausible WAGs dispensed by acclaimed Smart Dudes and your own life experiences. The fact is, we were born into, and live in, a universe of infinite ignorance. Consequently, each of us dies holding the very same amount of ignorance with which we were born.

Making sense of Life’s journey seems like a worthwhile pursuit, but, mostly…

ALL WE CAN DO IS STRAP OURSELVES IN AND ENJOY THE RIDE.

____________________________________

*An 18th century appraisal by Elite Society about the character of the non-elite.

**I am not being sexist. It seems to me that males seem to posture and boast far more than females.

 

 

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The Missing Bookend

Posted on March 18, 2012. Filed under: Humor, Memories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

What kid doesn’t want a horse?  How many kids actually get a horse?  It’s not like you can keep them in the house or apartment, ’cause paper training is — to borrow a term from the canine scene — a real bitch.  Forget newspapers.  Think snow shovel.  While the aroma of those scoopings may be several degrees “more pleasant” than that of traditional carnivorous pets, I’m betting that, for tedium, sheer quantity trumps malodorous every time.  There are probably other disadvantages to keeping a 16-hand ungulate tethered to your bed post, but, I forget what they are right now.

The virtual horsey, though, is a staple of childhood.  It gets staked out in that place where every child spends most of its time, that realm of fantasy called imagination.  No snow shovels required there.  Those guys neither eat nor (in the words of televisions’s detective Adrian Monk) un-eat.  All they do is carry the child’s imagination into one adventure after another without the baggage of troublesome chores.

From my childhood, I recall a set of bookends that were cast in metal into the shape of a saddled horse nibbling grass from around its front feet.  Not the best pose for riding into adventure, but, it was workable.  With index- and middle finger astraddle the saddle,  the free hand took that steed in a gallop into all sorts of action.  Yes, indeed, I did get that horse my child-side always wanted.

But there was a rift between fantasy and reality.  My valiant steed had but a single chore to do, and, that was to keep my parents’ books arranged neatly on the shelf.   Going out to play with me left that single chore undone, and, those books sorta got in a state of disarry.  When adventure time was done, I had to straighten those books and slip that bookend back into place so that order and neatness reigned again.  And, I wouldn’t get grounded.

Flash forward a couple of decades (eh, maybe more), and look back at that bookshelf in both a state of order and a state of disarray.  Two bookends equaled order and neatness; one bookend, however, had order near it, but, the farther out you went from it, apparent order became blurred in a heap.  And, I thought…

Life is what happens between two bookends, birth and death.  The longer I travel the road of LIFE, more and more “books” are left behind me.  At some point, the disarray of NOW sort of props up the books behind me so that I can see childhood, teens, military service, whatever, as clean-cut accounts of my journey.  But, the muck of the recent past and the uncertainty inherent in NOW lends an air of disorder to my present path, and, that breeds angst, frustration, hope, satisfaction…??   Hey!  That’s LIFE, isn’t it?  And, my life only has one bookend…

Now, where’s that bottle?  Got the glass.  Ah, there it is!  A red wine from Georgia (the country, not the state).  Pour it into the glass…  Okay!  A toast to that missing bookend:  “May your playtime last a long, long time.  Don’t take it personal, but, that chaotic bookshelf looks just fine without you.”

Next up:  Pismire

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