Take note, life without knowledge falls flat

Take note, life without knowledge falls flat

Katie Cion, Staff Writer

I used to sit in my living room at seven on weeknights and watch my brothers get all the answers right on Jeopardy. Realistically, I was too young to know the emperor at the start of the Pax Romana (Who is Augustus?) or the association based in Lubeck that held its last assembly in 1669 (What is the Hanseatic League?), so I sat in a sort of awestruck sulking stupor.

The competitive streak in me was satisfied by the fact that they were older, and so naturally knew more than my green young self. I was even excited at what I saw as a glimpse of my future, worldlier persona. Clearly, knowledge was a right of passage, and all I had to do was twiddle my thumbs until I, too, was 18 and brilliant.

As I slowly approached that deadline, I was beginning to see some flaws in the plan.

Sure, I knew the Enlightenment didn’t happen in a day– actually I didn’t know anything about the Enlightenment, so that was concerning, for one thing.

But I was doing everything right: my heart was beating, seconds were ticking by, I was definitely getting older, but the wiser part seemed to be lagging behind.

How could I still have no idea which South American country mined the most gem-quality topaz?

The answer? What is Brazil?

But more pressingly: what is a startling lack of initiative?

My fatal error was to be ignorant enough to think that my ignorance wasn’t an issue.

There is never an appropriate level of ignorance. We have grown up in a time where information is criminally easy to come by. One minute I can be reading an article about fashion at Coachella, and then, when my Spanish teacher walks by, I can switch tabs to an online transcript of Don Quixote in the original Spanish – or, sorry Señora, the English translation.

There is so much to know, to read, to watch, to eat, to experience and no way to ever take it all in. And yet, aren’t we better for every new thing we learn? Have you ever felt that?

After reading the great American novel (What is The Great Gatsby?) or learning about what’s happening in the Mideast (What is the Arab-Israeli conflict but we also would have accepted the aftermath of an Egyptian revolution, the Syrian civil war, gross human rights violations, economic turmoil or more sweepingly “What isn’t happening in the Middle East?”), don’t you feel just a little bit better about yourself?

Though the pursuit of knowledge is inevitably a failing endeavor, isn’t it a good feeling to be failing just a little bit less?

We are fast approaching a time in our lives when willing, and even flaunted, ignorance will become very uncool. When it will be decidedly lame to admit that we “don’t like reading” or “don’t follow the news.”

We can never be satisfied by how much we know. We ought always to be searching so that our inherent curiosity might balance our inherent arrogance.

To always have interesting conversations at dinner parties. To be the friend who can recommend a good book and a good bar. To come out of college at least sounding smarter so our parents can feel better about dropping that 200k.

And most of all to always own our siblings at Jeopardy.