Italian singer Adriano Celentano croons a tune called "I Want to Know" (Vorrei sapere), the lyrics of which state his desire over and over again: I want to know. I want to know.
There are some things I just don't want to know. Or see.
While driving in Washington, DC recently, I saw a man flossing his teeth as he crossed the street. I didn't need to see that. It got me thinking, though, of all the things it would be better not to see or know.
Our favorite songs can be tainted by too much knowledge of the artist who sings or writes them. It is hard to feel the love of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight," "Layla," or "Forever Man," all written for Patti Boyd, when we know how badly he treated her once he won her from her husband, George Harrison.
I'm a big fan of the Rolling Stones, but the knowledge that Mick Jagger lobbied long and hard for a knighthood, is a notorious tightwad, social snob, and (as revealed by Keith Richard), has a "tiny todger," makes me hear his music differently than I did when ignorant of these things.
It's tiresome to mention Miley Cyrus again, but the fact that she has a good voice will be forever overshadowed by the memory of her vulgar performance and that gray, over-sized tongue.
The late writer Dominick Dunne once said he was aware Frank Sinatra had one of the best, most beautiful voices of a generation but "I can't stand the sound of it," because he knew the ugly side of Sinatra.
One can admire George C. Scott's brilliant film performances but admiration is lessened by the knowledge that he was a drunk who beat up Ava Gardner when they were together.
Did we really need to hear Michael Douglas say he contracted throat cancer from oral sex? When you see him now, do you think of his fine acting performances or that over-sharing moment?
Do we need to hear newly-in-love couples brag about their sex lives as if theirs is somehow unique and will not cool off a bit after they have seen each other floss their teeth a few times?
Let me digress here to say I think even the most loving couples should keep a little mystery in their relationship, particularly when it comes to grooming habits. There are some things we don't need to know or see.
I wish artists would see the wisdom in keeping a great deal of mystery about themselves. It would make it so much easier to appreciate their art. We don't need to know what Matt Damon has to say about how Obama has let us down, do we? It interferes with his Bourne Identity.
Unless we share their views, it is a risk for artists to share their political opinions. Clint Eastwood, a fine actor and film maker, is forever tainted in my mind by his ridiculous performance at the Republican National Convention, ranting at an empty chair.
In the small Italian village where we live a part of each year, I can imagine, but don't want to know, the politics of the people we encounter in the shops or caffes we frequent. I'm sure some still admire Berlusconi or even Mussolini (the trains on time and all that), are racist, anti-immigrant, or generally have views that we don't share.
I just don't want to know. Non vorrei sapere.