Daniel Tosh has a show about Internet videos predicated on his belief that he’s too cool to have a show about Internet videos. Which one came first? Did he get the show and slowly develop a condescending attitude towards its subject, or did he get the show because his attitude would make the show funny?
Nearly everything like this where something fits either fortuitously well or comically badly has ambiguous origins. Are highlighters usually yellow because it’s noticeable, or is it noticeable because our minds are trained to seek out yellow highlighting? Does the word “smack” sound like what it is because it was invented to, or do we perceive the sound as such because we know what word is associated with it?
I hate not being able to know these things, but I hate it in the way Yossarian hates Clevinger. Which is to say, mightily, but I would also be disappointed if they didn’t exist. There’s a certain frail beauty in things existing just as they are without an apparent backstory, a beauty that might diminish if these things were explained.
But the beauty might multiply. Understanding can awaken a new light that makes things sparkle where they didn’t before.
So just as origins can be ambiguous, so can the problem of what we should do about the ambiguity. A tug-of-war between appreciation and discovery. By no means are the two mutually exclusive, but we need to decide which one ought to lead to the other. Which one ought to come first.