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The Unknown Unknown by Mark Forsyth

The Unknown Unknown (2014)

by Mark Forsyth

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"Ci sono cose che sappiamo di sapere. Ci sono cose che sappiamo di non sapere. Ma c’è anche l’ignoto ignoto, cioè le cose che non sappiamo di non sapere."

Forse è vero, i libri che non hai letto sono i migliori. Non li hai letti perché li avevi sempre fatti attendere sugli scaffali, li hai magari leggiucchiati, la presentazione, la recensione, la citazione. Ne sai comunque qualcosa. Poi ci sono i libri che non hai mai saputo che esistessero, non pensavi che potessero essere stati scritti e che magari avresti voluto leggerli, se non addirittura scriverli tu. Poi ci sono tutti quegli altri libri che non potrai mai leggere, scrivere, possedere. I libri della biblioteca di Babele, la biblioteca del mondo. Già, perché se ogni uomo è un libro, immaginatevi quale biblioteca sia quella scritta da tutti gli uomini che furono, sono stati, sono e poi saranno. Ci sarà da leggere dall'altra parte del mondo!
( )
  AntonioGallo | Nov 2, 2017 |
Clever and funny. This brings up the question I've been asking for as long as I can remember....namely, when a teacher says, "Be sure to ask questions when you don't understand something", what do you do when you don't know that you don't understand something. How do I know when I don't know something? Over the years I've asked teachers that very thing and I've never gotten a response that was worth the effort they put into it. There are several reasons why I did not get into teaching even though I did return to school and get a teaching certificate some years later. This is one of them....Teachers do not, for the most part, understand that they don't understand everything. I did not want to become part of that culture. Yet this booklet does a marvelous job of unmasking this little anomaly in the way so many people think. Tis worth the few minutes of anyone's time to read it....Picked this up at the Islamic bookshop, Wardah Books, in Singapore. ( )
  untraveller | Apr 29, 2017 |
A very nice little essay/article by the author of The Etymologicon and The Horologicon. Any bibliophile like myself enjoys reading about reading, but it's even better when it's as charming as Mark Forsyth's 'The Unknown Unknown'. Starting as a riff on a quote from Donald Rumsfeld, of all people, this brief little piece has some neat stuff to say about how it is often the unexpected things in our lives which most satisfy us. Without being curmudgeonly or Luddite or even disagreeable, Forsyth notes how modern life – particularly because of the internet – is one of instant gratification and satisfied needs. But in this essay, he argues that it is those things we didn't know about – the unknown unknowns – which are the most spiritually enriching:

"… you can find what you never knew you wanted, where your desires can be perpetually expanded. Not satisfied, because what point is there in satisfying a desire you already have? You are no better, no larger, at the end of it. A desire satisfied is a meagre and measly thing. But a new desire!"

Of course, Forsyth takes us on one of his characteristically and entertainingly peculiar journeys, which encompasses some thoughts on Pride and Prejudice – Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy would never have hooked up in the internet age – and introduces the reader to the concept of bibliomancy. Forsyth's writing has always been about introducing readers to new words and ideas, and 'The Unknown Unknown' codifies this aim in a nice little package. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Mar 24, 2017 |
Although it might say nothing new and is preaching to the converted, this is a nice short essay on the benefits of browsing in bookshops to help broaden your reading horizons.
However for such a short essay, Mark Forsyth does self-depreciate himself over drinking too much for my taste. ( )
  CarltonC | Jan 27, 2017 |
A very short book (essay?) that sums up my feelings about bookstores. Even though I love my kindle, I'll never stop buying physical books. ( )
1 vote BooksForYears | Apr 1, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Forsythprimary authorall editionscalculated
Leene, AnnekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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