Sancho, who had been very attentive during the cousin’s narration, said:
“Tell me, Senor, and may God give you good luck in the printing of your books, would you know, and you must know, because you know everything, but could you tell me who the first man was to scratch his head? To my mind it must have been our father Adam.”
“Yes, it must have been,” responded the cousin, “because Adam undoubtedly had a head of hair, and this being the case, and Adam being the first man in the world, at some time he must have scratched his head.”
—Don Quixote, Second Part, Chapter XXII
Is it a Zen saying that a tea cup must be empty before it can be filled? Somehow I recall someone explaining this before launching into a long speech about eating raw food. (You must drop all preconceptions before rejecting everything above room temperature.)
This passage in which Sancho, as usual, plays the fool makes me think of the talking heads (or “experts”) that yap nonstop in the news. The columnists and the pundits who wield their precious stances on everything under the sun aren’t interested in the art of disputation. They just want to be the loudest voices in the room. (When was the last time someone stepped up to the plate and willingly admitted that he/she was horribly wrong?) When lies are repeated often enough, and with enough rancor, they become accepted as truths.
Why not ask the people in the newspapers and the news shows what they certainly don’t know for sure? This might be an interesting discussion and could lead to the discovery of the many unsolved mysteries of our daily existence on this planet. What is totally inexplicable? Not just missing airplanes and the popularity of so many lousy songs. How about 99% of what a human being encounters in life?
No, this isn’t a call for the know-nothings to unite. Or is it? Because there is something so refreshing about the blank slate that Sancho presents. He makes the scholarly cousin (the “expert”) look like a pompous windbag.
Now who is the fool?