I Think I Know I Mean a Yes

The title for this piece is a line from the lyrics of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, sung for the bemusement and ponderation of future generations by The Beatles, and written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, John Winston, and Paul James.  Back in ’67 when the song was new and freshly put to vinyl, the lyrics made perfect sense.  Of course, I was smoking a lot of weed in those days.  Socrates is credited with saying that the only thing we can truly know is that we can know nothing.  Enigmatic phrases from many of their songs would indicate that The Beatles concurred.

A quick internet search turned up four distinctly different versions of this single seemingly insightful but somewhat puzzling line.

1. I think a no will mean a yes
2. I think I know I mean–er–yes
3. I think ehh no, I mean ehh yes
4. I think I know I mean a yes

It seems we don’t really know the lyrics of one of the most recognizable songs of our generation, let alone all the hidden meanings and nuances.  What has happened to the truth here?

Which brings me to the subject of agnotology.  Having little formal education, or as I’d rather refer to it formal establishment brainwashing, I decided a couple years ago that I’d become an agnotologist.  The job description seemed to fit right in with what I’ve always tried to accomplish.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Since the word itself is a neologism and not widely accepted as an actual occupation, I should describe exactly what it is.  Or is not.   An agnotologist is someone who studies culturally induced ignorance or doubt.  A truth-seeker.  A slayer of sacred cows.  A student of what is and what is not.  A decipherer of black, white, and gray.

Agnotology is a wide-open field and, although even an advanced degree will not likely produce any income, it does have its advantages.  First of all, no ridiculously expensive college education is necessary.  No wasted years spent memorizing, sleepless nights of study, the terror of testing…just to bring home a diploma to display in your library.  Agnotologist sounds every bit as impressive as cardiologist, geologist, anthropologist, or ophthalmologist.  Maybe more impressive than proctologist.  Also my agnotology studies landed me a non-paying job writing regular articles for Dissident Voice, by my estimation one of the finest websites on earth.  Status always trumps cash as long as you know where your next meal is coming from.

Now if Socrates was right and we can never really know anything for certain, you might be asking yourself what point there is in seeking truth.  Isn’t agnotology an effort of futility?  How do you seek something that doesn’t exist?  The answer is that it is often easier to determine what is a lie.  Then you gather together all related lies, put them in a corner, do simple subtraction, and if you’re lucky, what you have left just might resemble truth.

An agnotologist is not allowed to have an agenda.  He or she must be completely flexible and prepared to throw away a lifetime of accumulated ideas at the drop of a hat when new information surfaces.  Truth is an elusive beast at best.  It can change color and shape like an octopus or a cuttlefish.  Even squirt ink in your eyes to blind you.

An agnotologist must have a thick skin, for it is the messenger who is killed for the crime of bearing bad tidings.  He or she must be prepared to be shunned and even hated by estranged friends and family members.  Most people, as Jack Nicholson famously growled in “A Few Good Men”, can’t handle the truth.  When the lies are comfortable, folks will choose to live the lie every time.  The agnotologist must keep a constant vigil for pitchforks and torches, tar, feathers, and rails.  The only good agnotologist is a living agnotologist.

Now you’re probably asking yourself whether only bona fide pompous asses qualify for this job.  The answer, of course, would be a resounding yes, but only pompous asses who thirst for the truth.  Just ask my wife about her life with Mr. Knowitall.  An agnotologist is, by definition, telling most of his compatriots that they are ignorant and full of shit.  No wonder most family members no longer speak to me and I rarely get invited anywhere.

If you’re reading this article, you’re likely to believe many of the same truths that I do.  Unless, of course, you’re employed by the CIA or NSA and are busy putting more checks after my name on some official enemies list, you and I could have coffee or cocktails together, have a grand old time laughing and joking, and never piss each other off.

My corner of lies has grown over the years.  If they took up any actual space, I’d have to move into a much bigger house.  Take a look.  Many of them have to do with corporate media deception concerning the wars we wage, human rights abuses, predatory capitalism, election fraud, and pollution.  Every day they spew from my flat screen and land in the corner of lies.  Come to think of it, Frank Zappa was my inspiration for becoming a relentless agnotologist many years ago when he famously said…

I am gross and perverted, I am obsessed and deranged.
I have existed for years but very little has changed.
I’m the tool of the government and industry too.
For I’m destined to rule and regulate you.
I may be vile and pernicious, but you can’t look away.
I make you think I’m delicious with the stuff that I say.
I’m the best you can get, have you guessed me yet?
I’m the slime oozing out of your TV set.

Did you hear that sound?  It was the four versions of the lyrics listed above landing in my corner of lies.  I just found the official Beatles website and found out the truth, or at least some version of the truth:

5.  I think a “No,” I mean a “Yes”.

I’ll go with number five unless Sir Paul drops by for a pint and tells me differently.

John R. Hall: Meanderer, dreamer, mountaineer, restaurateur, military draft refusing felon, wannabe revolutionary, and citizen of Earth, observes the circus of life, and writes from wherever the north winds blow him. He can most likely be found somewhere in The Hawaiian Island Chain, in Mexico's Corazon, in The Sonoran Desert of Arizona, The Mohave Desert of Nevada, The high deserts of New Mexico, on a Teton glacier in Northwest Wyoming...or at halls245@msn.com. Read other articles by John Rohn.