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“Inspiration is needed in geometry just as much as in poetry.” Pushkin

I find it easy to proclaim that insight resolves more difficulties than answers ever do, even though this notion might initiate a slow, self-referential, inward spiral in search of insight. Where does insight originate?

I know, or I think I know, where answers reside. I pose a question then initiate research with the implicit assumption that someone’s already answered it, or something similar, before. The friendly research librarians can help, though these days, search a-la Google® more often stands in for old-fashioned research. And if I’m fortunate enough to hold a fundamentally decidable question, either search or research will likely satisfy my curiosity.

Few of my questions seem to comfortably carry the fundamentally decidable label anymore, if they ever did.

Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity that the questions that matter to me now seem fundamentally undecidable. Heintz Von Foerster said that only fundamentally undecidable questions could be worthy of human consideration. Some machine, or some human entrained to behave like a machine, could handle the rest. For these, these FUQs, require more than call and response, other than memory and recall, different than either search or research, and they deserve more than a simple, straightforward answer.

FUQs might seem like any decidable question. They might well beg for an answer without ever disclosing their razor sharp hook hiding within their bait. Beyond some boundary, problem solving, question answering gets all FUQed up. Beyond that boundary, the harder anyone tries to answer the question, the more failure seems guaranteed.

Call them puzzles or queries or dilemmas. I don’t care. I do care that I make the fundamental distinction, though, between problems and these FUQs. FUQs get resolved by discovering some choice. I might start my inquiry confident that an answer exists, only to discover that one must be invented, and even then, the invention might be incapable of anything but a temporary deflection of the difficulty. This sometimes amounts to a lot of effort, and while I might well understand that I’m never more than an insight away from discovering some novel resolution, the prospect of so much sweat might persuade me to forego that FUQing (Fundamentally Unanswerable Questioning). To just let it freaking be.

These times, I need my handy can of inspiration. I might spend half my morning focusing to open that can, which, I must disclose, is always half-filled with worms. But, it seems, I must open that can of worms if I’m ever going to give a FUQ a chance. I suspect from the outset that I will settle little by considering this latest FUQ, but I’m learning that without inspiration, I forego insight; and without insight, my living’s not worth a FUQ.

I suspect that we’re all riding the same roller coaster here. Some heading up, others’ down; some dreading the whiplash, others reveling in their recent breath-taking ride. For me, I seem to need some inspiration to take my place in line. Never was enough for me to watch others taunt their fears. I ask myself, “What’s my Fundamentally Unanswerable Question today?” Then open that can of worms and ride.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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