By Rhiannon Butlin
On Friday, Katie *shoutout* explained the etymology of the word amateur, that is, a lover of something, and it made me realise the value of inexperience, of the power of being un-knowledgable – if that is a word.
Imagine, for example, a young child watching with unedited awe a magician perform a magic trick. At this moment in time, before she ever becomes aware of the dexterous physical mechanics behind slight of hand, she is able to experience complete, unblemished, magic.
At university, whilst studying Literature and Writing, I realised that knowledge is a double edged sword. When you bring greater understanding to a passion, you risk undergoing a fatal disenchantment with something you once found mesmerising. Spending years poring over the written form and its construction means seeing words laid out on the page like metal cogs in a clock; laid completely bare they can begin to appear tarnished if they have been crafted with anything less than the utmost skill.
Most Literature students would struggle to flick their way through trashy chick lit (or dick lit for that matter, which we’ll all accept is a literary genre and not something I’ve invented in the name of fairness) without stumbling over it’s inelegance. Whilst, at first that appears to be a benefit it means that the easy relaxed consumption of something you once held dear becomes a highly conscientious task. Any flicker of awe is now reserved for work which transcends your level understanding. That, in itself, is a painful loss.
I’m reading Toni Morrison’s most recent novel right now. It’s not very good. It appears to be a watered down version of her best work. Perhaps to make it more marketable, at her age I can imagine a healthy pension would be rather tempting. But whatever the reason, it’s a real shame for anyone to be exposed to the flaws of someone they admire deeply.
I’m sure people involved in art, music or any other interest came to a similar realisation the more they studied their craft. Heroes and heroines soon became little more than human beings. It’s for this very reason that the collective consciousness agrees that meeting your idol is never a good idea.
Which is why Katy reminded me that the value of lack of understanding rarely occurs to us until after the warm glow of astonishment is removed from in front of our eyes. Perhaps why adoration is attributed not to the expert but to the novice. The same is surely true of advertising.
So I’m thinking, live it up now, and maybe when we’re all in our mid-eighties we’ll realise how lucky we were when we had no f•••ing idea what we were doing. Peace out.