August 2, 2010

“Ignorance is bliss” – except when it’s not…


“Where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.”

       English poet Thomas Gray (1716-1771) 
       From the last two lines of his poem “On a Distant Prospect of Eton College.”
       This is the origin of the now proverbial phrase “ignorance is bliss.” In the poem, it referred to young people who are happily oblivious to the difficulties they will face as adults — and to the ultimate, inescapable fate of death. “Ignorance is bliss” is now more widely used to suggest that people are better off not knowing about something that might make them unhappy or fearful. It is often used satirically, when noting that people often prefer to ignore issues they should be dealing with or concerned about. 


“If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t there more happy people in the world?”
       British actor and wit Stephen Fry
       On the BBC comedy panel game show QI (short for “Quite Interesting”)


“When it comes to anything found on the shelves of the feminine hygiene aisle, ignorance is bliss.” “Expert Author” Daniel M. Cruse
       In his post about “Air Intake Systems”


“When it comes to communicable diseases, ignorance is not bliss.”
       Communicable disease expert Kay Robertson
       At a recent public hearing in Helena, Montana


DERRICK (actor John Cameron Mitchell): “O’Neal, settle a bet. Is ignorance bliss?”
O’NEAL: (actor Matthew Borlenghi): “I don’t know. I just wanna be happy!”
       In the TV series Party Girl (1996)

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