Bookmark #697

It often surprises me how people underestimate the expanse of what someone can know if they simply read, for they do not talk about such things because it is perverse to always show that you know something about anything.

There are times when you share your knowledge, and times you keep it tucked in the back pocket like some receipt you forgot was in there. If, for example, you find yourself at a party at three in the morning, and if things have reached the point where people are simply sitting down with their drinks in their hands, you do not talk about the things you know for only two things can come out of it. If they somehow reject what you have to say, no matter the pedigree of where you read it, it will lead to an altercation the others are too tired to watch, and this will do nothing but turn what was a graceful descent into an unfortunate end. On the other hand, if they do not say anything but feel inadequate for not knowing much about how coffee was first made or the clear difference between an ale and a lager, or some old law which serves nothing but be a piece of trivia, they will continue to remember how you made them feel, despite it being their fault for not reading enough, and they will never invite you again.

All that to say that there is a time and place to share what you know, but if you ever happen to find yourself in the company of an expert who is only one per a degree that eats dust in some drawer they have not opened in years, and if you truly know what you know owing to reading out of general curiosity and the joy of knowing things—which is the only way to read—and not out of the necessity to fulfil some credit criteria, I suggest you destroy them and let them have it. There is a time and place, often at a table in a cafe, where you have been quiet too long, waiting for a moment to pounce. If you find that window, by all means, pounce.

The view that knowledge is not found in books or an interconnected web of ideas, experience and error must be destroyed like the paper armour of expertise they wear. It was better when knowledge and reading were synonymous. I suggest we start a quiet revolution and put things back to where they were.