The Importance of Knowing

Reader comment on: Gelernter on Yale

Submitted by Richard Albarino (United States), Jul 7, 2015 18:03

Growing up in New York in the late Forties and Fifties everyone I knew wanted to be smart and to be known as smart. And not necessarily school smart. Schools were just as bad and boring as they are now. Being book smart and knowing everything conferred a kind of status unavailiable in sports or popular music or any other endeavor, We hung around street corners, usually in front of a drugstore, discussing books and philosophy and history. We didn't need prodding by our parents most of whom were just scrambling out of the double whammy of the Deppresion and the Second World War. We were not Jewish where such hunger for knowledge is common, but Wasp, Irish and Italian, Protestant, Catholic lower level white collar fathers, with some working class families. Later, we graduated to bars, usually around fourteen, there were so many bars in New York I guess it was the competitive pressure. The rule was if you could get your nose over the bar you got served. This was our real education: bull sessions, endless bull sessions. If a book was mentioned you didn't know, you got is right away bought or borrowed, just to keep up. Keeping up was important. Not knowing was shameful and disgraceful. What happened to that culture? Where has it gone?

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