I don’t know about you, but I like to know stuff. I like to know regular, get-through-the-day stuff, but I like to know odd stuff too. Mostly odd stuff, actually. I often don’t know why I know something, where I heard it, or why I remember it. And it’s usually incomplete bits of knowledge, which is often frustrating and frequently useless, except to start interesting conversations then trail off awkwardly.
I suppose knowing random bits of things is like being a collector, and collectors are often weird, right? Stamps, or Civil War hats or dead pets or whatever. Weird. Why is my brain wired in a way that makes me fascinated with geology or impressionist paintings or container architecture? Why those particular things?
Not that I know a lot about any of that stuff. I know very little about most everything. Some people are really, really good at retaining knowledge. People with big, scholarly minds, who remember dates and details and are smart. I am not one of those people. While I may be voraciously curious, my brain is like a sieve. I may hold onto little bits, but most everything goes right through. So it may seem like I might know a lot of stuff. And I do. But it’s a mile wide and an inch deep. I’m pretty insecure about it.
Frequently, on a daily basis, I discover some new curiosity, or I am reminded of some familiar interest and I am forced to remember how much I don’t know. For instance, I recently watched the documentary Food, Inc. I’ve used this blog to bleat about grocery consumerism a number of times. Here too. Also here. Grocery shopping has to be one of the most universally mundane activities we all must do on a regular basis. Grocery shopping is booooring. But grocery stores are a study in American commercialism. And culture. As consumers, we are lulled into a stupor by rote familiarity. Once we are softened and captivated by the sheer routine of weekly or daily grocery shopping, we are manipulated into everything we buy. Grocery stores absolutely fascinate me.
So I knew what we were in for when I asked to put Food, Inc on our Netflix list. I have Fast Food Nation on my bookshelf, and I’d like to read Omnivore’s Dilemma. I think I read a snippet of Fast Food Nation when it came out and it made me a vegetarian for six months. As an aside, I’d much rather read a book than watch a movie or documentary. I do love documentaries, but I always feel a little dirty afterward. I want the knowledge, not always the advocacy. I’m naturally critical when reading, and I form mental rebuttals and arguments as I go through the book. But with films, even some of the most well researched, and even documentaries where I agree with the advocacy, can lead the audience in a way that I find suspicious.
Food Inc was gut wrenching and has again made me consider my meat eating habits. And it agitated my natural curiosity even more. I want to know MORE about where our food comes from. And it made me wonder about all the other processed consumables that are really hard to avoid. And vegetables, too. Tomatoes in February. From Brazil. That don’t even taste like tomatoes. We are so used to “just shopping” that we don’t stop to consider what we are buying. Because it’s easier that way.
And across the board, that’s what I hear people say. “I can’t think about that,” or “I don’t want to know.” Really? Maybe it’s better not to think about it too much. It’s easier not to know. Groceries are an example, but there’s so much we aren’t aware of. Who has the time to dig in and spend time being curious about such things? Who has time for moral dilemmas in the goddamned cereal aisle?
And there. You see that? I just became a pompous ass.