Friday, February 20, 2009

Trivialities for the Homegrown Intellectual to Be

I dreamt last night I went into the Cash Cab and flunked all the questions and was left out in the pouring rain near Grand Central Station in NYC without any money. I was somehow reprimanded for not "knowing." This is the age of trivia glorification. From the images and sounds I get on TV and Film I can easily deduct that knowing useless information is very useful in your way to become rich and prosperous. I wonder how many times I got the job or the date because I could entertain using the accumulation of useless facts I have gathered all through my life. I remember memorizing all the names of the countries of the world and their respective capitals in sixth grade. I also remembered my dad parading me through the neighborhood and daring the reluctant neighbors to ask me the name of any capital. I felt very embarrassed but I didn't want to let my dad down. So I answered diligently. The Academy Awards will be given out on Sunday and one of the favorites to win Best Picture is not other than a movie that deals with this fascination we share about trivia, Slumdog Millionaire. So, knowing trivia has become a sort of zeitgeist in our society. I'm most likely generalizing. Trivia is not always trivial. Knowing the capitals of the countries of the world is rather important if you are to follow world politics and/or history. You need to know them for reference. Your mind needs memory landmarks to navigate the endless sea of information. Because we live at a time where information is so massive and pervasive it can also be a very confusing time to sort out what is important and what is not. We need to be editors of that information in order to handle it intelligently. I think our brains are being developed in new ways. Our inner wiring is being redesigned as a reaction to this information overload. Don't take me wrong, it is fascinating to be exposed to such diversity of knowledge and to be an active participant in this instant linking of thoughts and perspectives (Blogging being one good example). So my mind is diversifying at a fast rate. Specializing in subject matters I didn't even know existed five years ago. Maybe what we call trivia today is but a mind enabler, a touchstone for future discovery and understanding. So I must keep up, I do not want to be left behind. But I must do it at my own pace. I will not succumb to the pressure that I must know everything that is happening right now. I'm not getting into that Cash Cab only to be left out in the rain for not having the perfect answer. I'm taking the Orient Express. Elegance over speed. Beauty over chaos. Delight over stress.