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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Know Everything Else

I should begin by dedicating this post to my dear friend, Willie, who visited this town over the weekend and continued our 49-year-long conversation about what can and cannot be known and beer:


Having previously dealt with the subject of How To Know Everything, I thought it apposite to discuss methods for knowing everything else. It is probably kindest to begin by saying there are no fixed methods in philosophy for knowing everything else short of a complete survey of the entire universe, but we can derive some oblique inferences from everyday life and art. For our purpose, music will suffice.

First, let's examine the ancient Greek noun, odeion, which means "roofed theater."  Thousands of years later, the etymology and meaning remained intact, even with the advent of  Nickelodeons, theaters that could be entered for a five-cent fee. Then came Teresa Brewer, who confounded that solid definition with jukeboxes and orchestrions --coin-operated music machines. What was known became something else, but no one minded because the song was really fun and the singer, cute as a button. One cannot argue successfully with fun and cute-as-a-button because the combination is philosophically unimpeachable. Observe:



{clip of Teresa Brewer singing "Music Music Music"}

Odeion is sometimes confused with the Latin word, odium, which is an ancient Roman mechanism into which one could drop a coin and really really hate. It was quite the rage until rage went out of vogue and gum machines were hurriedly invented.

This brings us to our second gnostic insurrection, Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. "Express Yourself" is a personal and family favorite. When it played on the radio in the '70s, our little ones would dance and join its exuberant refrain (from L. refringere =to repeat) as they interpreted it, "Sprash yourself!" Norma and I would tell them the singer was encouraging them to express themselves and they would assure us they understood, then go back to dancing and yelling "sprash!" They are great big men now and happy in their arts. We are glad Mr. Wright came along and owe him bigtime.



[clip of Charles Wright performing "Express Yourself"]

Expressing yourself is not a knowable enterprise. Society may balk, it may not understand. It didn't understand Einstein for a long time. Einstein said, "I don't need to know everything, I just need to know where I can find it when I need it." And we cannot neglect the go-to authority upon whom we relied so heavily while raising our offspring, Doctor Benjamin Spock --a surprisingly compassionate man for a Vulcan: "You know more than you think you do." In conclusion, it would appear the key to knowing everything else is to simply have fun doing it.

29 comments:

  1. Theresa Brewer, a blast from the past! In my need to know everything, I had to look her up on the #1 site of knowledge (other than you, Geo), Wikipedia. It seems that Theresa was paid with cupcakes and cookies in her early days in the music business. Now we know what made her so perky and happy.

    Your last line was perfect, "The key to knowing everything else is to simply have fun doing it."

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    1. Thanks, Arleen. I think Brewer was still a teenager in that clip, but she did project a lot of energy throughout her performing career.

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  2. I'm still working on everything.

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    1. Me too, Delores. Seems like everything always needs doing around here.

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  3. Well, I hope you're happy with yourself, dude. Thanks to you, I will be singing, "Music, Music, Music" for the rest of the day. (I'd sing the other one, too, but since it'd be ridiculous for someone my age to sing "sprash yourself," it just wouldn't be the same.)

    Fun post. I'm glad you and Willie were able to get together. Nothing like hanging out with an old friend.

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    1. Must've been a catchy tune because Brewer recorded it many times --even a disco version in the '70s. And yes, enjoyed seeing Willie. He was in town by invitation of the class of '64 --their reunion committee considered him a favorite teacher. I got to host him after they finished reunioing.

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  4. Those are two wise-looking fellers there in that picture! You probably have a combined IQ of 300+ !

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    1. Don't be misled by all that light in the photo, Keith. It was caused by Will's and my misfiring synapses.

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  5. I am pretty certain I was told that sprashing wasn't done in polite circles.

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    1. From Mr. Wright's performing presence, I conclude "sprash" is express+love, which transcends all lesser etiquettes.

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  6. I always manage to astonish myself by the fact that I know next to nothing.
    I do know, however, that I remember the Teresa Brewer song from when I was a tiny tyke.

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    1. Jon, Isaac Asimov wrote, "People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." Didn't say anything about knowing everything else. And yes, that song is full of persistent echoes.

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  7. Actually the two of you in the picture above look like someone from the movie "Goodfellas"......in New Jersey, around 1968. Perhaps the statute of limitations might be of help.

    I find the older I get, the less I know for sure.

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    1. Ah 1968, was there really such a year? I shall be 65 this winter and Willie, 77. He has been and continues to be a stabilizer in my life and others. He is also a strict grammarian and corrects me unmercifully. I love him very much. Age and uncertainty can be a winning combination. I just wish the rabidly cocksure of our kind achieved it earlier.

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  8. To "Sprash" myself I sat with a silly grin on my face watching Music, Music, Music. As soon as I send this to you I am going to go watch Ricochet Romance. I like you taste in music.

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    1. Ricochet Romance is great, but steer clear of her syncopated version of "Mutual Admiration Society" which scared the heck out me when I was little --sort of like Prokofiev's "Dance Of The Capulets" still does.

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  9. It's always nice to relive olden days, the memory-crammed days. I hope you two had a wonderful talk. Thanks.

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    1. My pleasure, Sangay. When one finds a friend who insists upon conscientious society, reason, tolerance and the progress of human dignity, the conversation is not confined to the past. It is an influence that has no end.

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  10. Is not the path to true wisdom accepting we know nothing?

    I chuckled at your Mr. Spock/Dr. Spock joke, of course.

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    1. I accept Mr. Wright's recommendation, "Whatever you do (unh!), do it good!" as axiomatic and representative of true wisdom. As to the Spocks, I'm pretty sure a name that uncommon indicates relatives at least.

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  11. Who needs to worry about knowing everything with google and wikiepedia? Glad you met up with an old friend. What did you learn about that most important of topics, beer?

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    1. Glad you asked. Every great country must have a great beer, that is a fundamental philosophical truth. We dined at a Vietnamese restaurant 10 minutes from both everything and everything else. Will ordered a bottle of Tsingtao and I, a Corona with lime --two of the most cheerful beers in the world.

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  12. My daughter is married to a Spock. When Dr. Benjamin Spock was very ill and dying, she said they received huge numbers of offers to help in Dr. Spock's care.

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    1. Not surprised at the outpouring of care. Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care has been of tremendous value to parents raising families for over half a century. We still have our much-consulted copy. For that and his life-affirming political influence, he was a wise and beloved presence.

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  13. I like Einstein's quote about just needing to know where to find stuff. And for that, we now have Google :)

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    1. Einstein was certainly no stranger to enigmas. He may not have known everything or everything else but was unparalleled in the 3rd category: knowing things nobody had yet dreamed of knowing.

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  14. Geo, you're one with everything. Existentialist fun is the best kind. ;)

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    1. One with everything like a Coney Island hotdog. Thanks! Let's keep existing --it is, as you say, FUN!

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