Why You Should Admit that You Don't Know

• 4 min read
Why You Should Admit that You Don't Know


I found this wonderful quote in Austin Kleon blog post:

Mr. Carson — who was also a translator, working in several languages — viewed writing poetry not as an exercise in setting down an idea, but as an exploration.
“The kind of examination question which used to be put, ‘What did the poet have in mind when he said …’ is an assumption that the poet clothes his thought in verse,” he told The Spectator in 2012, “whereas the poet often doesn’t know what he has in mind: He follows the language, and sees where it might lead him, which is usually a very different place from what he thought at the onset.
If you know exactly what you are going to say in a poem,” he continued, “that poem will be a failure. Besides, there is no interest or fun, in saying what you already know.”

I'm no poet. But this newsletter operates like one. I start writing and I discover through writing. This newsletter is very stream of consciousness. I explore topics with you.

And usually at the end I (and you) are left with more questions than answers.

I'm always defining and re-defining what this newsletter is because I want to be clear. You should know what you're getting yourself into.

To me, the only answers that are worth knowing came out after the struggle of grappling with a question. We are too quick to jump to answers.

Instead I think we should stay with the un-knowing for longer. Instead let's turn the anxiety to a childlike wonder.

Let's turn fear into play.  

If you want to be given the simple answer to your life in this newsletter, I can't help you. But if you are willing to wonder, play, and sit in uncertainty for a bit longer you're in for a treat.

I can give you the answers that aren't simple. The ones that circle back to more questions. The ones that are much more profound.

And to that end, I am starting a podcast called Pranav's Question (https://anchor.fm/pranavsquestion).

If you would like subscribe to listen to short (21 min or under) conversations I have with a rotating group of experts about the questions with the most profound answers.

I'll link to the latest podcast episode below. And you can subscribe to Pranav's Question wherever you get your podcasts.

I hope you enjoy that and the rest of today's letter.

Pranav's Updates

🎤 My Podcast Episode:  

I had a podcast with the Patron of Play Ritesh Reddy (his great newsletter). You can check it out below

Link: https://anchor.fm/pranavsquestion/episodes/Why-is-Play-powerful-and-profound--W-Patron-of-Play-Ritesh-elsrkm

🎥 My Movie Review:

A Review of Charlie Kaufmann's I'm Think of Ending Things

A ★★★ review of I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
As much as I love Charlie this seemed like a less focused, less successful Syndechoe. Still, interesting ideas after I read the analysis, but doesn’t congeal as a movie. There are wonderful moments of writing, dialogue, acting, and cinematography. It’s an extremely well-made movie. There are really …

This Week's Petri Dish


Yes to this

(h/t mymind's twitter)


I've been playing this song/video non stop since the past couple months. It's so much pure joy.

Also the video is dedicated to touching. How could we not love that?


A great tweet from Bess Kalb about the greatest 9 year old with the greatest New Yorker Captions

As I was thinking about questions vs answers, I went down an Austin Kleon rabbit hole. He is amazing and had many great articles, but there was one in particular that related to our topic. It's called Teach your tongue to say I don't know. He quotes many people who talk about how learning beings when you have the courage to say 'I don't know'.  Here's the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman on getting into the role of Truman Capote:

I think you have to kind of start with saying, “I don’t know. I don’t know how the hell I’m going to do this at all.” Really be as naive as possible, you know, as ignorant as possible, because then you can keep yourself as wide open as possible for anything that could be of help, could be of use…

As I've talked about endlessly (ie my thoughts on Great Beauty), we must learn to see like artists. And it starts by turning the familiar into the familiar.

As Austin Kleon quotes towards the end

Sophistication may bring increased knowledge and, perhaps, a refined sensibility. But it may also encourage a cult of experts, dull sensitivity, and may reward flatulence in thought and language. Every society needs a barefoot Socrates to ask childishly simple (and childishly difficult!) questions, to force its members to reexamine what they have been thoughtlessly taking for granted.

I may be no Socrates but I can firmly promise you this will not be a space for flatulence in thought or language.  

Till then,

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