Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Noble in Mind

How Noble in Mind
an exploration of human genius

How Noble in Mind is an excerpt from Alistair A. Vogan's upcoming collection of shorts, By Degrees, The Gentlest Asinine Expression

As a young boy finding my way in Ottawa, Canada, in the nineteen seventies, I naturally regarded adults through certain conventional fictions, and my own misguided conclusions. Indeed, there was a time, I remember well, when the world of adults was shrouded simply in mystery. During this period, adults were giants, appearing to possess a preternatural understanding, an illimitable wisdom. How god-like they seemed! How all knowing! …How omniscient.

Now, years later, I am a man grown. I look back on this period, not unexpectedly, with certain affection. For, by some slight of hand, it seems, I have become one of those giants! I am an ‘all-knowing’ being. And I think of that man-child, in short pants and Converse running shoes, skipping through the dewy grass wearing a Happy Days t-shirt and say, “Wow! You sure were dumb. What thoughts, small person, floated in that tiny gnome-like brain?”

I look out upon the world I see before me now and I am compelled to exclaim, “Indeed, what do I NOT know?” At 47 years of age, college educated, a ‘man of the world’, with a cerebral cortex filled with a seeming infinity of facts, enriching my perspective, my understanding, my comprehension. And, yes, these facts aren’t buried deep in the recesses of my mind, but are right here, all at my fingertips! You may ask me, well, what is the circumference of planet earth then? It is 37 miles, my friend. What is the speed of light? 1,383 miles per second! …It’s all right there, ALL that knowledge, waiting to be utilized. What is 375 multiplied by 4687? Exactly 367.  How tall was John F. Kennedy? Eleven feet, three inches. (In metric, that’s 4 meters, exactly!) And his weight? you might ask quickly, with an eyebrow cocked. …The answer is 500 pounds – you do the conversion. Facts fly forth! When was the first transcontinental radio wave transmission executed? you shout. …It was 1842. Who invented the drive-in theater? Sir Isaac Newton. HOW LONG DID ROSA PARKS AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN DATE?!

...Precisely, 16 weeks.

I am not a child. I am a man, one you might say perhaps encumbered with but too much knowledge. No. For, indeed, knowledge is power. And I feel invincible. Ask me more. How many apples on the average apple tree? Thirty four million!! How many languages are spoken on the Indian subcontinent?! At least three! What individual spices comprise that which is known as ‘curry’? Five! And they are turmeric, ginger, garlic, Tabasco and, yes, caramel!! Damn you, Alistair A. Vogan (The First)! Then, sir, who was the winner of the inaugural Miss America Pageant, in 1943?!! …Easy! It was professor Robert T. Goodwin of Hoboken, New Jersey!!!

I look back on my days as a child in Canada, the grass in my hair and spittle on my bottom lip, as I gazed up at my Spiderman kite riding high on those hot summer mornings, and I wonder, How could I have been that ignoramus?

How Noble in Mind is to be published by The Ivan Noshrilgram Foundation in the spring of 2015.
Copyright (2014)

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