“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know”.
The title of Morris’s film is inspired by the (in)famous statement made by Donald Rumsfeld in February 2002 regarding the absence of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the alleged supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. Having been initially criticised as an abuse of language, the quotation was later described by linguists as ‘impeccable’ both semantically and rhetorically. Morris’s title brings up a fourth category which possibly borrows from philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who extrapolated the original quotation by including a fourth category, the ‘unknown known’, meaning ‘that which we don't know that we know’ (i.e. the unconscious beliefs and prejudices that determine how we perceive reality), but also, possibly, ‘that which we intentionally refuse to acknowledge that we know’. The latter meaning points to Morris’s interest throughout his sparkling conversation with Rumsfeld: not as much an interest in what his answers can illuminate, as in what they can obscure, and, on a more general level, in the role of language and imagination in political communication and decision-making. “Why don’t they assassinate him? / You said ‘they’. / Ok, I’ll rephrase: ‘us’. / Because ‘we’ do not assassinate the leaders of other countries”.
20 March, 19:00, Muzeul National al Taranului Roman