NOTHING IS ALWAYS RIGHT
I KNOW, YOU KNOW
These two statements rely on ambiguity for their success. Double meaning or multiple meanings render them thorns in linguistic sense and side-sense. I confess to an attraction for uncertainty and inconclusiveness. I have read T. E. Lawrence's SEVEN TYPES OF AMBIGUITY and I often put up a defence in favour of irony, sarcasm and witticism that can only be establish through double entendre. What is nothing and how can it always be right? Surely then, nothing, being always right, is the most noteworthy standard, worthy of aspiring to. This kind of reasoning in defence of nothing abounds in the opening chapter of Andy Warhol's book FROM A TO B AND BACK AGAIN. The converse of this of course implies that there is no such thing as can always be right. All things, moral, philosophical and political have their weaknesses and can be caught out, sooner or later, for lack of 'rightness'.
The I KNOW, YOU KNOW statement thrives on suspicion and anxiety created by a comma. What is meant by it? First, 'I' want to assure the other person/s that 'I' know something and that it is important (or possibly disturbing and unfortunate) for them to know that I know - eg. "Do you know - I know what you did last summer". Second, 'I' might imply (who is to know?) that the other person's/persons' knowledge is accessible and open to me. They might have thought that they can keep their knowledge secret, but, I know, you know. Third, 'I' know, you know, he knows, she knows and we all know. Nothing is secret any longer - not that nothing in itself has a hope of being always open or truthful, but then again: NOTHING IS ALWAYS TRUTHFUL!?
In THE BOOK OF THE DISQUIET, the Portuguese writer, Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) offers the following insight:
What distinguishes the superior man from the inferior man and from the latter's animal brothers is the simple quality of irony. Irony is the first indication that consciousness has become conscious and it passes through two stages: The stage reached by Socrates when he said "I know that I know nothing." and the stage reached by Sanches when he said "I do not even know that I know nothing." The first stage is that point at which we dogmatically doubt ourselves and it's a point that every superior man will reach. The second stage is the point at which we doubt both ourselves and our doubt and, in the brief yet long curve of time during which we, as humans, have watched the sun rise and the night fall over the varied surface of earth, that is a stage very few men have reached.
Fernando Sanches (1551-1623), Portuguese humanist and philosopher and forerunner of Descartes. His major work was the Tractatus de multum nobili et prima universali scienta quod nihil scitur, 1581.