I sometimes wonder if comparing life in general to things around the kitchen and cooking doesn’t limit me in some way for seeing things as they actually are, but I really don’t think so. At least not yet… At worst, maybe it just makes me boring or hard to listen to for some who only hear a comparison to something I’ve seen there. This litmus test certainly isn’t limited to the world of cooking, but it is where I began to take note of it; the fundamental manner in which I measure intelligence.
It’s an interesting phenomena we’ve all borne witness to, a person or people we’ve known; the intensely book-smart ones who deep down we’ve always known, but never admitted publicly, to be absolute idiots. It matters little to us if they can perform mental backflips with calculus, recite the periodic table, or even rattle off different chemicals and reactions, or causes and effects. We loathe going into situations with them where the ‘know it all’ mindset comes to full percolation, spouting off everything to look for, to know, to expect – in addition to all the things we shouldn’t do, shouldn’t try, shouldn’t consider.
To me, persons such as this are idiots, because never for a single moment, do they abandon their notions or expectations or biases. For them, the world of experiences is most often a well orchestrated set of actions, set simply to reinforce their limited world view, serving only to concretize their biases. It’s not just limited to the book-smart people; you see it with political views, religious views, views about food. They keep doors closed and walk a straight line path through life, never understanding that many people come from different situations and circumstances, that no life has a single recipe for success or contentment.
There are, on the other hand, people who don’t live this way. By nature, they’re the sorts who seek out, constantly, new things try, places to go, or situations they’ve never been in. They enjoy being challenged, even at times uncomfortable, when it means the chance of some new experience. It’s made possible, most often, by going naked into things; being unprepared and letting go of expectations, allowing things be what they are and simply experiencing them, then pondering them, and letting them sink in… Only after the fact are they assessed.
I’ve been told I’m intelligent, and I believe I am, but only because I’m always willing to try and discover new things. To me, that is the only hallmark of intelligence. Intelligence isn’t writing, or reading, or the ability to regurgitate facts. It certainly isn’t cultivated by clinging to things that completely define ones world view or limit the way it might only ever be seen. I say this because, in spite of what I know, I don’t trust that any of it is complete or right – or that I know anything really – certainly not fully. Of all the things I’ve discovered and believe, none of it is so sacred that I wouldn’t challenge or test it constantly. Knowledge, to me, isn’t sacred at all. It’s useful, but it isn’t sacred. Discovery and experience is.
It’s the reason why, when it comes to cooking and eating, the people who rip cheeks off of the face of a roasted pig, or eat a hunk of snout, understand why I’ve made pizza with fresh testicles, happily stuff some gooey hunk of Durian in their mouth, or eat a stuffing laden with pork hearts, kidneys and livers, are exactly the sorts I want to mingle with. They understand life as I understand it, even if it’s not to the same degree of curiosity. They’re intelligent life, the ones who have perspective, seemingly on everything. They’re not so hung up on their biases to let them get in the way of trying something new, experiencing it first hand for themselves, or getting lost in some other ‘first time’. They seldom live in a world of fear, or panic, or have dictums that they expect others to accept blindly.
Maybe it’s the reason why there’s so much more to be learned from not knowing totally, or not believing what you know so much, simply approaching life like a child. Because if there’s only one thing I think I truly know after all these years, it’s this; the most intelligent of all people don’t know anything…