Remembering One’s Ignorance

“There are no accidents, there are no
coincidences,” wrote Jung. The day after Douglas McLennan asked me to
consider starting a blog, I was moving some books, by chance
including Thoreau’s Walden. Usually when I run across it I
can’t resist starting to reread it. I’m now 17 years older than
Thoreau was when he wrote Walden, and while he still strikes
me as a brilliantly fresh, goodhearted, and highly literate fellow,
as a more experienced writer than he was then I can now afford to
condescend to some of his flights of verbal fancy that sound ineptly
imitated from some passage stored in his memory. Still, he can stop
me dead in my tracks with a phrase, and he did it this time with:
“How can he remember well his ignorance – which his growth requires –
who has so often to use his knowledge?”

I closed the book and thought of my life, and of the proposed
blog. In my nose-to-the-grindstone youth I studied voraciously, but
in recent years, from economic necessity, my ratio of knowledge
gained to knowledge dispensed has shifted dramatically toward the
latter. I have made a career from trading my knowledge for money,
recycling some of it so often that I cringe to pass it over the
counter again. One thing I do not need a blog for is to emit
yet another steady stream of the facts about music that I have stored
up over 30-odd years of fanatical collecting. What I do need is a
place to think out loud, to run up against the ideas of others, to
quote striking passages that I’m not sure I agree with, and to foment
feedback. Another thing I need a blog for is space, enough column
inches to explore a subject thoroughly and truthfully, a commodity
that has been quickly diminishing in my various print outlets. So
while I take too much pride in my writing skills to go public with an
unedited stream of consciousness, I hope the reader will indulge a
preponderance of inconclusive cogitation – and give me room to
remember well my ignorance, which my growth requires.