I am reminded of my ignorance on an ongoing basis. Today, it happened when I was reading the obituaries in the Sun-Times and came across the obit for one Albert Murray, someone I’d never heard of. Here’s the first paragraph:
Albert Murray, the influential novelist and critic who celebrated black culture, scorned black separatism and was once praised by Duke Ellington as the “unsquarest man I know,” died Sunday. He was 97.
The obit goes on to talk about Murray’s ability to bridge the worlds of words and music, his ying to Ralph Ellison’s yang, and the important role Murray played in America’s cultural and intellectual life. I was an English major in college, have loved to read all my life on a range of subjects and try to have at least a cursory knowledge of what’s happening in the culture. Murray sounds like someone who — at some point –should have been on my radar screen. Why had I never heard of him? Was I sick the day we discussed him in class?
It is sobering to be reminded of just how little we know about so many things. A lot of us live in boxes that let in little new information. Try as I may, punching a hole in that box isn’t so easy.