Saturday, 8 February 2014

I know everything - I know nothing

Sometimes I feel like I'm the smartest person I know.

Especially when it comes to things like trivia quizzes. I seem to have a really good head for trivia quizzes. Stuff just seeps into my brain and seems to make itself at home there. Then it always seems to be ready at hand when there's a question to be answered. People sometimes look at me, and say things like, "How the hell did you know something like that?" I have no idea. It's not that I've actually tried to learn it. It just gets stuck there.

The thing about being smart in some situations is that people begin to expect that you'll be smart all the time. Even I get sucked into believing that, just because I'm quite good at recall of trivial facts, it means I'm actually really clever.

And then some other situation will come along, and I'll reveal my complete dumbness to the rest of the world. It might be a social situation - I can be particularly bad at social situations. Or maybe, it's just where I'll be surrounded by people who can speak so clearly and intelligently about all this stuff I have no idea about. Occasionally, I'll make a big mistake and open my mouth, demonstrating my ignorance to those around me. Or, more often, I'll just stand there silently wishing I had something intelligent to say that would help me to join in on the conversation.

Funny thing life. It always seems to be full of these kind of contradictions. One moment, you can be the smartest person in the room, the next you can be a complete ignoramus. I suppose after a while you get used to it.

I've hit on a pretty good strategy for when I'm in those situations where other people make me feel stupid. I figure that deep down, they're probably feeling the same way I do. Even as they're demonstrating how they clearly know everything, there's every chance that deep down they too know that they really know nothing.

And that makes me feel a whole lot better. 

1 comment:

  1. It always surprises me too, the trivia I can dredge up especially when I usually can’t remember what I watched on TV yesterday; I actually can remember what we watched last night although I can’t remember the name of one of the shows. I’m reading a book about memory at the moment and it’s scary just how little in control we seem to be when it comes to what we can and do remember and even what we hear and see. And not all of it is even stuff we can control, like the weather. I’m an intelligent person—i.e. I have a reasonable high IQ—but I lack common sense. I do know a lot of stuff but only about stuff that interests me. I retain very little that’s outwith that sphere. Yes, I know who the Prime Minister is (and even the First Minister of Scotland if it comes to that) but on the whole my general knowledge is quite poor. I’m good at faking it though because I usually know a little about most things and if I inject everything I know into a single conversation and never have to talk to that individual about that subject again I come away looking cleverer than I really am. I should be cleverer than I really am. I’ve read a ton of literature on Beckett—about a shelf and a half’s worth not counting the dozens of articles I’ve downloaded—and yet were you to give me a questionnaire on the man I’d probably do very poorly unless you only asked me the obvious questions. I know the stuff’s in there but I have a terrible time accessing it. My memory’s so worrying that I’ve even made an appointment to visit the Glasgow Memory Clinic next month. They’re more interested in testing for dementia or Alzheimer’s but you never know. Maybe they’ll do a brain scan or something.