We Don’t Like What We Don’t Understand

One of my favorite documentaries of all time came out in 2010 as is titled ‘Wasteland’. Borrowed from Wikipedia the film is about an artist, Vik Muniz who travels to the world’s largest landfill in Jardim Gramacho, just outside Rio de Janeiro, to collaborate with a lively group of “catadores” (workers who salvage recyclable materials from the garbage) to make contemporary art using some of the materials they have “picked”.

One of the conversations that the artist had with one of the catadore people there has stuck with me to this day. One of the people was expressing to Vik that they don’t understand art and don’t like it. Vik’s response to him was “maybe we don’t like things we don’t understand”


Is this something that we all often do without realizing it?

We say we don’t like something, when really is it maybe that we don’t quite understand it. This notion is particularly popular I think when we experience something in the creative world. Maybe we don’t “get” the sculpture in our city, the lyrics to that song or the abstract art in the gallery.

When we don’t understand something happens…

we feel. dumb.

So no wonder we avoid things that we don’t understand. Not understanding something therefore makes us feel bad.

I’m currently reading Rick Rubin’s: The Creative Act – A way of being right now (will definitely attempt to do a  sketchnote about it soon). I liked this idea that he shared – he appreciates something and tries to experience then maybe he’ll then try to understand it.

Oftentimes I think we try to understand something FIRST (maybe to avoid looking dumb!) then we appreciate it or experience it.

What do YOU think? Is this something you’ve thought about before? Does this resonate with you?

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