I Mock, Because I Don’t Understand

I am opinionated about a whole range of topics with little knowledge on a very small number of things.

The result of this less-than-ideal combination of personality and intellectual (in)capacity is that I have a tendency to mock, rather loudly and proudly, things I don’t understand.

Take art.  I am an uncivilized philistine, so it is probably fair to say that art, particularly paintings, is an area in which I have little to no knowledge.  The bluntness in the mockery I express, however, is inversely proportional to the knowledge that I possess, so I am usually able to summarize my thoughts on famous painters in one phrase. Regarding work by Picasso, for example:  “I know shit when I see one.” Or about Monet: “The guy should have been introduced to an optician, if not an ophthalmologist.”

I don’t understand a lot in sports either (for example, it’s not clear to me why driving around in circles is a sport), but in this field, I reserve my mockery for the most popular in the world.  I get mocked by non-Americans for calling soccer “soccer,” but if you ask me, the joke is on them.  I’ve watched a full soccer match only once in my life and that was enough.  That match was a literal snooze fest between China and Japan in some sort of a pan-pacific tournament.  Japan won the game 1-0, but I missed the only highlight of the game because I happened to have sneezed just before the goal and had gotten up to grab a tissue. At least the game had a highlight; I’ve seen enough soccer scoreboards to see the “0-0 F” scoreline to make me want to yell WTF.  If you think soccer is so great, you need to explain to me why a game that fails to achieve the ultimate goal (forgive the pun) far too often (and even when the goal is accomplished, it gets lost in a sneeze) doesn’t deserve to be mocked.

You may think that if I only wise up, I’ll learn to appreciate things more.  Au contraire, for it’s far easier to mock something if you have little knowledge about it rather than none.  Remember the old saying: “Little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

Regarding the French, I certainly have little knowledge.  In fact, having taken French as a foreign language for five years, having been to France and having received a classic liberal arts education, my knowledge about French history, language, people and culture is well beyond “little” and bordering on “some.”  With so much knowledge about France and the French, I have enough material to mock the French people relentlessly and mercilessly for hours on end by, for example, just talking about how the French haven’t been relevant for three centuries and the preposterousness of their numbering system.

Those with a psychology degree may think that my dismissive attitude about things I don’t understand is a defense mechanism and my cavalier tone is a way in which I try to deal with my inferiority complex.  If you are such a person, and if you have ever heard me mock Harvard College, where so many of my colleagues have graduated from, you may very well conclude that such mockery supports your psycho analysis.

You would, of course, be incorrect.

I mock Harvard College, not for its failure to fundamentally understand what a liberal arts education is (it not only permits a student to double major but also doubles down (sorry for the pun) on the sin by requiring two theses for those who do), but because the school’s men’s hockey team can’t even be considered to be in the same league as the five-time national champion men’s ice hockey program of Boston College.

I do confess, though, that there is one area in which I find that I have toned down my mockery in recent years, and that’s in politics.  It’s certainly not the case that I’ve come closer to the views of the liberals.  I don’t even think it’s that I’ve come to gain a greater understanding of their liberal ideas.

Since it’s not understanding, perhaps it’s empathy.  An empathy towards the so many people who have lost their way, or were never on the right track to begin with.  An empathy towards ideas that are so misguided.  An empathy towards the people who will never achieve enlightenment.

Come to think of it, empathy isn’t the right word for this.  Not right at all.

The right word is “pity.”

How condescending, you say?

How insulting, you fume?


If you expected something better of me, please re-read this post from the beginning, where I take great pride with the fact that I take a smug attitude towards art, soccer and the French based solely on ignorance.

Isn’t this entirely consistent with an attitude of a self-confessed narcissistic egomaniac?


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