Polymath and Ignoramus
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


(The Ignoramus and The Polymath sit at either side of a chessboard. The Ignoramus (white) has just posed the Queen’s Gambit. They are listening to two songs by The Innocence Mission: “The Brotherhood of Man” and “Into Brooklyn, Early in the Morning”)

The Ignoramus: In what way is cheese produced?
The Polymath: Cheese comes from cows.
The Ignoramus: And goats, too, right?
The Polymath: Occasionally.
The Ignoramus: What about emotionally manipulative artists?
The Polymath: Them as well, Ignoramus. But you don’t have to milk Stephen Spielberg; he milks himself.
The Ignoramus: Oh. How about aesthetic innocents, seduced by viscerally appealing sound?
The Polymath: Yes. They make fine cheese, such as this.
The Ignoramus: Such as this?
The Polymath: The music we are listening to as we speak. It is a fine cheese – the fifth in my five fine cheese cannelloni. Can you not hear it?
The Ignoramus: Oh, Polymath! I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I did not recognize this auditory input as music.
The Polymath: (lets out a booming laugh) I have not since acted in as apt a fashion as I did on the day I named you, Ignoramus. You truly are an ignoramus!
The Ignoramus: (hurt) This is why I pretend to know things that I do not, so that you will not make fun of me so heartlessly.
The Polymath: Can you not hear the easy melody? The gently warmed guitars? Tambourines and accordions? That perfect voice, floating up from the music untethered and from great heights dropping lyrics as rich with cliché as half-melted brie is with flavour?
The Ignoramus: Polymath, I do not mean to presume, but is your pedagogical method not flawed? To me - an admitted ignoramus, mind you – what you have done seems the same as leading a monolingual Frenchman into a room full of objects and saying “Do you not recognize a bike, a toaster, a big foam finger?” Surely, he would respond, “Indeed, I recognize these objects, but as ‘une bicyclette’, ‘un grille-pain’, et ‘un grand doigt de mousse’.” For, though I recognize these sounds from having heard similar ones before, your utterance of the word ‘music’ was the first I had heard of it. Can you either define ‘music’ or give an exhaustive list of everything that might be referred to by the word?
The Polymath: You are right. I have shown poor judgment. To add insult to injury, I am also unable to provide an answer to your question “What is music?” As such, I propose that we complete my humiliation by switching names for all time. It only seems right.
The Polymath: As you wish, Ignoramus.
The Ignoramus: I am not sure what you mean by the word ‘wish’.



Please cross your fingers for me.


Thank you so much for your kind donations. We three truly appreciate it. Yet we remain so hungry.

Posted by Jordan at March 15, 2007 3:13 PM

Just wanted to say, I would've loved to take you guys out to dinner ( or even better, try my mom's cooking!) if I didn't live in the semi-arid prairie land called Alberta.

Posted by J.S. at March 15, 2007 5:38 PM

your wedding band says George Berkeley, but you're sleeping with Douglas Hofstadter. and I laughed really hard at this.

Posted by Dan at March 15, 2007 5:56 PM

un grand doigt "de" mousse, dear friend.
Crossing my fingers. What for exactly ?

Posted by garrincha at March 15, 2007 7:12 PM

Thank you all! (except you, Garrincha. Damn you for correcting me and for asking the one question you know I will never answer (for fear of the jinx). Is it too much to ask for you to cross your goddamn fingers without reason and allow me to write in whatever kind of broken French I choose?!).

Posted by Jordan at March 15, 2007 9:20 PM

Sorry. Feel free to correct my english anytime.
Kept my fingers crossed without you giving me a reason, don't worry. And incidentally, thanks for the nice tracks.

Posted by garrincha at March 16, 2007 3:50 AM

Yet another example of how very talented artists go mainly unpaid for their WORK. I recommend having a "donation line" open at all times, enabling us (Team Concernful World, as I've just named your readership) to pay you three, because we certainly owe you it, as well as everything else.

Posted by joel Taylor at March 17, 2007 1:48 PM

just wanted to say thank you three for creating 'said the gramaphone' -- for putting all these little musical morsels out there for us, & also for your writing. you make me smile with your whimsy & eloquence -- every entry is such a joy to read.

i second what joel has said in his comment. you really should have a donation line open at all times. because i would certainly give you what i can, when i can, as i truly appreciate what you do.

i hope you enjoy your dinner together. may there be better wine, desserts & violin serenades that you could ever wish for!

Posted by jenanne at March 17, 2007 10:39 PM

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about said the gramophone
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"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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my love for you is a stampede of horses
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st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
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drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny