‘An Honest man is always a child’. Socrates.
On some sunny Athenian afternoon back in the times of antiquity, a time before the concepts of monotheism or Rock n Roll, a figure makes his way across the square, he grapples with a man he’s never met and demands to know what he thinks about it all. The man, perhaps a nobleman, a politician or a priest struggles to find an answer, stumbles over his words and finally declares, ‘but Socrates, according to the oracle you are the wisest man in Greece’. To which Socrates declares ‘As for me, all I know is that I know nothing’. What the oracle means -Socrates believes-is that even though the wise ‘citizens’ of Greece know so much, really they know nothing whereas Socrates himself knows that he knows nothing at all! Therefore he is wiser than the others because he knows this one truth!
Ok stay with me, it gets better I promise, I’m just trying to illustrate a point, it’s an important one that once tamed and understood will form the cornerstone of the narrative to follow. Most of us believe we know something, we feel justified in sharing our knowledge with others to inform, to enlighten or raise a smile. We can’t all be legendary philosophers, after all who you gonna call when the toilets blocked, Nietzsche or Bob the builder? What Socrates believes is that it’s better to keep a curious and open mind rather than assume you know everything, if you think you know everything then you actually know nothing at all. What Socrates knows is that he knows nothing at all, this way he’s like a child, looking at the world in goggle eyed wonder!
Even so, none of us assume we know everything, which would be ridiculous, no one can know everything, even Gods have been known to get it wrong from time to time. As you read these very words a tingling, warm sensation spreads over the back of your neck, you do know someone like that don’t you, someone who, despite not actually being invited into the conversation will shake his head in practiced but subtle condescension and say ‘actually you are all wrong, Monica Lewinsky is a man’, you know a know-it-all. (KIALL from now on)
KIALLs declare their opinion as fact on any given subject from feng shui to the complicated inner workings of the international monetary fund. KIALLs know everything, they know the truth about any given subject, quite often it’s not the established universal truth either, it’s a sinister mysterious truth that few of us, if any, are aware of. How the KIALL became aware of this truth is often sketchy, if pressed he’ll tap the side of his nose and tell you that for your own good it’s best not to know, ‘ suffice to say I know a man’. More than likely the KIALL is a done-it-all too, he’s been everywhere, seen all there is to see in this world and the next and the next and the next……
To become a successful KIALL it’s no good going at it half heartedly, you can’t be a part time KIALL, you have to actually genuinely believe that you are mankind’s vessel of truth, the bearer of all fact. It’s a heavy burden and one you must carry, it’s seen upon your wizened, prematurely wrinkled face, the gray hair, the hunched load baring shoulders, the sixty a day habit. Also, and this is important, if you tell someone that, for example you are the world’s greatest authority on white water rafting, then you must invent or confabulate memories to absolutely convince yourself of this, otherwise it just won’t sound authentic.
So we have established that you must look the part and by convincing yourself first it’s easier to convince others, but what of the nuances, the little details that would, without doubt, sway a jury or satisfy a lie detector? But before I pass on a few pointers I want to point out that I’m not a KIALL and never have been. I have however had the pleasure of being surrounded by them all my life, like moths to the flame they seek me out and so through no fault of my own, I have acquired a little knowledge on the subject. Take it or leave it it’s up to you, these are only my thoughts up to this moment, I’m happy to stand corrected, if that is, you feel you know more than me!
An important subtle mannerism is the, almost challenging, correct me if I’m wrong, stare. This is how it works;
KIALL: ‘Yeah, yeah I’ve been to the moon, its err made of Edam, yep it’s a Dutch moon’. KIALL keeps his eyes on yours, he doesn’t flinch, he’s challenging you to disagree.
You: ‘Err um well I can’t say for sure but I really don’t think the moon is made of cheese’. You laugh nervously, wondering if this is some sort of joke.
KIALL: Have you been to the moon?
KIALL: ‘Well I have, I got a piece in the fridge if want to taste it? Hey if you don’t believe me phone NASA; just say I’m a mate of George Lucas’. He does the stare thing again.
You:’ You’re friends with George Lucas’?
KIALL ‘Yeah, we went to the moon together, it helped us develop the scripts, here I’ve got his mobile number somewhere, call him, ask him’.
It’s getting silly now; you want to put an end to it.
You: ‘No, no not necessary, I believe you, incredible, cheese you say. Yes, Yes I see, why would you lie about a thing like that’?
KIALL: ‘Lie? I’ve never told a lie in my life, Scientist clamber over each other to examine my phenomenal honesty’, then he hits you with the stare once more.
Another mannerism is the wry patronising smile that goes off half cocked whenever you state what you assume to be a fact, he knows differently, but he won’t offer his wisdom without invitation. Eventually, despite a growing sense of doom you ask him what it is he’s smiling at, and so with the aforementioned stare he tells you that he invented the bar code while putting the finishing touches to the map of the human Genome!
Incredulity and Scepticism are also used by the practiced Kiall for example:
KIALL: ‘Mother Teresa was a hooker and a swindler before turning to religion and charity’.
This statement has more than likely been preceded with wry smile and made in the presence of defying stare.
You: ‘What the fuck!!!?’
KIALL: ‘What you didn’t know, where have you been for the last twenty years, in a coma?’
The KIALL is convinced not only of his vast knowledge but also his superior intellect, despite the fact that he works as a security guard for mother-care he’ll happily tell you that his IQ is off the scale! He’ll argue the toss about Nuclear physics with a nuclear physicist, brain surgery with a brain surgeon and the life and times of Abdullah the butcher with Abdullah the butcher!
He is of course completely insane, but harmless; he has denied himself personal growth and instead worships at the church of bullshit. Riddled with insecurity and probably kicked in the shins regularly by children who, despite being pre-school can spell better than he can he remains optimistic, even positive about the future.
He, believe it or not, wants your approval, wants you to be impressed, and wants you to be in awe of him! Probably unloved as a child due to his precocious nature and bullied by the other children at school. At ‘the academy for excellence’ he’s made to sleep standing up and mocked in the changing rooms for his abnormally large penis. Somehow he triumphs over adversity and becomes not only the brightest child in his school ever, but gets to shag all the pretty girls too. What’s not to admire? If mankind wanted to clone itself then KIALL would surely be a serious candidate, but then he’d know all about that wouldn’t he.
So to all you KIALLS out there and one in particular I’m really pleased you know it all and I’m happy that I know nothing.