Knowing is Possessing

  • Description of motion:  Both palms face up with arms extended outward.  Shoulders sometimes shrug. 
  • Date Observed: 12/24/14 at dinner party.  Many people seated at table (10-12)
  • Example:  A:  "Where is that noise coming from?"    B:  (Shrugs in response with hands facing out.)
  • Use:  Used in correlation with the expression, "I don't know."  Can be used without any correlating language.
  • Metaphor:  Ideas are Objects.  Knowing is Possessing. 
  • Explanation:  Since ideas are objects, answers to questions are objects as well.  If we do not know the answer to a question, we do not have the answers in our possession. We turn our palms up to show our hands are empty, effectively saying, the answers are not here.  I do not possess them.  Possible correlation with the expression "Search me" also a variation on "I don't know", but implies the law enforcement procedure of being searched.  In this instance, the turning of the hands with the palms up might be a submissive gesture as if to imply that you are ready to be searched.  Also implies that answers are objects that are not in your possession.
  • Origin:  We may possess a physical object such as a knife on our person that is hidden from someone else's view.  Even though the person cannot see the knife, they may suspect that it exists.  In a similar way, we may possess knowledge that is also not apparent.  We would then need to be searched in both instances (for knives, for knowledge).