Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ultracrepidarian Musings

“It is a happy thought to believe that our gardens smile at us and hold for us a genuine understanding. At the same time, we must not forget that of all the humorous things in a garden, we who pretend to be gardeners, are the funniest.”
Louse Seymour Jones, Who Loves a Garden

Here’s an adjective you might not know you needed. But you do. Ultracrepidarian: of a critic, giving opinions on something beyond his or her knowledge. Example: I have a relative whose ultracrepidarian pronouncements on subjects ranging from antelope colostomies to zebra vasectomies belie his/her almost total ignorance of the subject at hand.

Um, I know somebody like this. Don’t we all? They’re probably the people who would order bacon yogurt from this menu.

Immediately before they express an authoritative but stupid opinion, these people typically say: “You know… (insert something you presumably don’t know)…” On second thought, perhaps my anonymous relative is a mere crepidarian, (rather than the superfluous conjugate) seeing as how he/she often begin conversations propounding on topics he/she clearly knows nothing about with: “I could be wrong, but…”

Everybody has an opinion once in a while, even, surprisingly, me. I’ll even concede that some peoples’ opinions are sometimes based on their life experience as minor characters in the reality show I star in. Other times, well, let’s just say such people apparently live in a world where they are seemingly the only people who know not to touch the fire on the stovetop, and it’s their mission to save us all from burning our fingers. Of course, you can’t reason with such people. You’re more likely to win an argument if you make shit up and change your position with impunity as the argument progresses.

So, why haven’t I learned not to participate in such conversations? These days, too much of my energy is devoted to maintaining a white-knuckled grip on the throat of my own reality, leaving me little energy to spare arguing with morons, let alone trying to shine the clear light of my reason into the dark corners of their paranoia.

Which is where my garden comes in. That, and my twisted sense of humor. Judgmental, ultracrepidarian opinionated, know-it-alls probably also know more about gardening than I do. They know why one design scheme failed, why my pepper and eggplant seeds never germinated, what kind of caterpillars munched my fennel into skeletal stems. At times like that, I remind myself that I’m only pretending to be a gardener. What I’m really doing outside in the back yard is cultivating my own peace of mind.


chaiselongue said...

That's right! Just ignore the crepidarians, ultra or otherwise, and carry on cultivating the peace of mind which is the main aim of gardening!

Rose said...

LOL, my students used to call me a "walking Webster's," but here's proof once again that there is always something new to learn. This is a new word to me, but certainly one I could add to my vocabulary, as I know many of these people. I have tried to explain to others, especially when I was teaching, that there's a big difference between stupidity and ignorance. I freely admit to my ignorance on many subjects, including gardening. As you say, gardening is more for restoring some sanity and finding some tranquillity, both of which seem often to be lacking in our society.