Edvard Munch: Dance Of Life (1899 - 1900)
"May I never finally figure it out."

I write because I'm still FiguringOut how to write. I cannot remember the elementary school lesson that disclosed this apparently fundamental aspect of living, that one might learn without ever finally resolving learning, the tenaciously asymptotic aspect of life. I can't remember that lesson because I never received it. Each learning iteration might well advance the cause without resolving the struggle. Another deficit always emerges to render the learning incomplete. It might be that mastery emerges only after this understanding overtakes more naive notions, when the trajectory finally becomes clear. Nobody ever actually arrives there, though the pursuit remains worth engaging, just as one remains worthy of engaging by continuing. The purpose of FiguringOut must not be to finally figure out, for FiguringOut only exists in irresolution. Should anyone finally figure out anything, they should properly cease further learning. Then what? Become some font of knowing, a cold stone artifact of known? The world seems to continue changing, indifferent to such presumed achievements.

Maybe simple entropy explains this feature, where each advancement furthers without resolving.
Practice seems the repeated attempt not to merely replicate prior learning, but to position to understand former insufficiency. The learning seems necessary but not necessarily, necessarily not ever, sufficient, for that sort of sufficiency would represent a serious deficiency, foregoing opportunity for further refinement of understanding given ever-emerging conditions. One properly never catches up. One might call a truce for the purposes of taking stock. I, for instance, might publish a book, a completion of sorts which only starts another FiguringOut cycle. I read my own book and come to understand some of what I didn't know I was writing when I wrote it. I might read a book a hundred times and never truly comprehend it. I'm almost certain I couldn't truly comprehend it … or anything.

I've mostly felt stupid, unable to shake the obvious conclusion that I'm still learning. How many advanced degrees or post-doc experiences might finally leave anyone knowing instead of just approximating again? It's no Imposter's Syndrome if you're actually an imposter, a poseur merely passing. I know for certain that I do not yet know how to write, an absurd statement which might (I said, "might") only amplify my point. We seem to complain about what The Experts tell us, not quite believing that their judgements might actually apply to us, perhaps because we deeply understand how approximate all of our own understandings seem to be, or seem to have become. Received wisdom requires some reception, which seems to include some measure of delusion. I'll accept without rejecting my skepticism, perhaps only because I cannot (yet) come up with an acceptable reason for rejecting your opinion. We seem to exclusively live by tentative conclusion.

The Damned Pandemic Skeptics seem to reject expert advice because they expect immutable answers, a hundred percent probability of reliability; otherwise, they seem to reason, why bother? We're all still FiguringOut and always were, posing fresh approximations, some unavoidably destined to betray anyone's faith in them. The notion that anyone has finished FiguringOut amounts to a rejection of what learning and knowing actually entail. Let only those who have actually committed the sin of definitively knowing throw the first stone. Masks aren't a hundred percent effective and they're also not a hundred percent ineffective. We know of no absolutely reliable means for avoiding infection, though we might almost understand how to proliferate the contagion, which involves no longer paying close attention, presuming to have finally finished FiguringOut. We never knew anything except by obviously backward understanding, lash-ups barely standing close scrutiny but still standing. Later, perhaps much later, we might come to understand better, though some spread will very likely continue, perhaps ad infinitum. We're FiguringOut because it's our
only defense.

I write because I'm still FiguringOut how to write, daily reminded of all I most certainly do not yet know about the practice. May I never finally figure it out.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus