(The first Part of several Parts.)
Knowing is good.
Not knowing is better.
Knowing not-knowing is better still.
Not knowing what knowing is, is best of all.
Who are you? Do you know? Are you sure you know?
Itâ€™s an odd question to ask, and probably beneath even bothering to consider. Like so many other questions, that never get asked, because they are – well – so obvious.
Letâ€™s take me as an example:
My name is Forest Johnson. Except itâ€™s not. It is a random name to label what I write as having been written by me. It is not who I am. Whereas my real name…
Is not me, either.
I had no stake in it. My mother chose it. At random. A label that in no way defines me.
It is a symbol for whatever else I am. It behaves something like a vacuum cleaner, that sucks up everything to do with me, only this particular vacuum cleaner has a bag that can not be changed. Everything that comes within range of it, stays. Gobbled up by this relentless identity.
Having a name, I find I have to defend it, polish it, advertise it, stand up for it, clear it. I find I am unable to act as I might have preferred, in order to protect the reputation that this name gives me.
It reveals me to my enemies. Makes my friends think they know me. And worst of all: leads me to believe I know myself.
All of this, and more, results from this label that stands in for who I am.
I call myself crow. Usually with a lower case â€œcâ€. There are many reasons for this. I once raised an orphaned, injured crow. Healed and loved it. Set out to teach it everything I knew. And discovered that it had no use for what I thought I knew, but instead, that I had endless need of what it knew. It knew nothing. Not a single thing. I marveled at this…
Knowing nothing, it observed, with palpable interest, everything in sight. It looked, studied, pondered and saw. Nothing escaped it. Everything fascinated it. It played with its world. And came to be what it played with. It was noisy, sometimes, but in the way of healthy children: unselfconscious. With no other crows around, it said what it said, to itself, and to me. It did not seek to impress others of its kind.
Indeed, it did not know it existed at all, until it discovered its reflection in a pond. And quite probably still did not connect the rippling image within, with itself. But it would return, often, to the pond, to visit whatever it was, that was in the pond.
The crow, no longer a physical part of my life, still lives, as large as life, within my life, bringing a smile and pleasant thoughts, whenever I think of it.
And all of this was possible without an identity.
The crow I knew was â€œcrowâ€. It bore no other name. I see myself as â€œcrowâ€, and need no other name. And this freedom from the thing that defines me, serves as well as anything, to illustrate the relative importance, or unimportance, of Identity: a lead ball, a neon sign, a collection of outdated attributes that may, or may not be, currently valid.
I write often of ego. And this is why:
Each of the writers here has a specialty. All know many things, but each has a specific area of expertise. Some know politics. Others philosophy. Etc.
My area of expertise is knowing nothing. The knowing of nothing. Knowing about the absence of knowing. Knowing a great deal about nothing.
And you didnâ€™t get that did you? Nobody does. And yet, my area of expertise is one of the most difficult things there is, even to glimpse, let alone to master. Difficult as it is, there is something even more difficult: to communicate it to others.
To summarize: I know little of politics, and care for them even less.
I am as Apolitical as a man can be.
Tests I have taken have shown me to be consistently slightly to the right of dead-center.
I know nothing of philosophy.
I go out of my way to know as much of nothing as I possibly can.
This, as may have occurred to some of you, renders me something quite different to anyone else. Knowing this, what I write may make more sense than it previously did. It may speak to you, now, in ways as yet unheard, and unknown. I hope so.
It is my belated introduction.
It serves far, far better than a name.
For a name is a word, or two. It is not who you are.