I really love South Park, both the place and the show. My favorite episodes — anyway the ones that make me laugh the hardest — feature Towelie. Towelie is a towel who has been scientifically engineered to be exceedingly helpful. The problem with Towelie is that he is a stoner and once he’s high, he has “…no idea what’s going on.”
I’m not a stoner, but often I have no idea what’s going on.
When I was teaching critical thinking to the entire population of a small city, one of the chapters in our book was “What Does it Mean to Know?” The author of our book, Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, explained that the first step toward real knowledge is saying, “I don’t know.” It’s difficult for us to say that, or “I have no clue,” or “Beats the hell out of me,” or “I’m confused.” Instead we make stuff up or take a side or revert to tradition or do something so at least we (hope?) we come across to others as knowledgeable.
In most of the episodes featuring Towelie, he’s trying to figure things out, fakes it, lies, gets in trouble, gets his friends in trouble, gets high and finally says, “I have no idea what’s going on.” At that point, he stops. There might be a lesson in there somewhere. Or not.
About ten years ago I painted one of my blue towels to look like Towelie and it rode in the back seat of my car. It was useful both as a traveling companion and to protect the back seat from muddy dogs. As Towelie says, “Don’t forget to take a towel!”