You can find this sentence on the blackboard of every oral exam I have. It may not be the most motivating thing to stare you in the eye when you look up, but to calm their nerves, I offer my students a glass of water.
But what does it refer to? The image you see on your left is a still from Hal Hartley's movie Surviving Desire.
The main character, Jude, is a teacher who has been teaching his students the same paragraph for a month month and a half and most aren't really happy with that.
To show how important, Jude reads that paragraph... again! And asks his students what they make of it. But the same student objects that THEY're the ones who should be asking the questions, not the teacher. "Perhaps," Jude replies, "it's not as important to know the answers as it is to ask the questions better." (Followed by someone noting: "There you see, he told us something.")
Jude is a tragic name, therefore a tragic character, and it's Jude's tragedy to fall in love with one of his students. He loses his control over his temper and a friend and colleague tells him he has a crisis of faith. Once the colleague, Henry, sees Jude is in love, he tells him: "My friend, you are doomed."
Jude's student Sofie also feels something for him. He visits her in the bookstore where she works.
Jude and Sofie often has similar discussions. At one point she confronts him with his flaws, later he exposes hers.
In the end Jude and Sofie spend a night together. The next morning she disappears, out of his apartment and out of the relationship.
Jude is left behind, in pain and with Henry coming over with advice and the request to use Jude's toaster.
I haven't told you everything about the movie, so there's still a lot you can discover if you'd like to see this hour long picture yourself.
From the beginning of the film you know that ultimately Jude and Sofie won't end up together. While she's working at the bookstore, he's lying on the ground.
I showed this film in the first school I ever taught. They didn't understand why I showed them the film. Only nearly half of the class liked the film. (Some wanted to see Sofie and Jude still get together. Hey, maybe everyone wants to see a tragedy with a happy end.)
So apart from a showing on a big (!) screen in my first school, the message KNOWING IS NOT ENOUGH on the blackboard of my exams and the fact that this is one of my favourite films, is there more reason why I spend an entry on Surviving Desire?
Yes, I always hated the prospect of being a teacher. Standing in front of 20 people who really don't give a toss about what you're telling them. But my disapproval of how I'd been taught and this film made me change my mind.
Perhaps it is indeed not as important to know the answers as it is to ask the questions better.
Surviving Desire is out in Europe (VHS) and America (VHS/DVD).
The Kurtodrome Vault is part of the Kurtodrome.