Friday, January 1, 2016

It's hard to say.

It's difficult to express some things in words.

We have important things to share with our children and friends, but doing it in words gets mixed results.   The problem is the 'words'.  They aren't good enough.

The years since the Enlightenment have given us both more and less understanding of reality.

From the Enlightenment era, we have philosophy, the study of the general and fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.  It's that last one that has caused the most trouble.  Language, and the words we commonly use to discuss and describe life and the things we face from day to day....

That which we would like to communicate is almost always larger than the available words will convey.  Imagine, for example, standing at the altar on your wedding day as the music begins and the people stand and turn toward the entrance.  Moving gracefully into view, your veiled princess approaches on her father's arm, and as everything else fades from your awareness, your eyes meet and you feel it to the core of your soul; your entire world is consumed in a firestorm to be replaced by the most improbably magnificent view of the days to come ....  See what I mean?  You could talk for the rest of your life and never really convey what you experienced in that surreal instant.  If you've experienced it yourself, you've perhaps got a clue.  If not, your imagination may or may not get you even close.

It provokes the question, are words ever enough?  And, do words impose artificial limits on reality?  Converting reality to words is a philosophical imperative today, but is that a realistic expectation or just arrogance.  Can today's human mind truly grasp and convey everything and anything?

“Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean.  Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.” 
― Theodore Dreiser

“The struggle of literature is in fact a struggle to escape from the confines of language; it stretches out from the utmost limits of what can be said; what stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary.” 
― Italo Calvino

“For in spite of language, in spite of intelligence and intuition and sympathy, one can never really communicate anything to anybody.” 
― Aldous Huxley

Describing adequately in words what you can do
in a day could take a lifetime or more.  Something
worth remembering when you try lecturing your kids.
"Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."
 John, the Apostle  

Thus we come to the crux of the matter.  Do we understand what is offered to us in words?  Do we see the reality it's attempting to describe?  How much more is there beyond the scope of the words?  

Now we see a bit of the dilemma faced by physics and metaphysics; only one of the two finds words to be sufficient.  Similarly struggling through the centuries, science and religion (things you can explain vs. those you perhaps cannot).  

The Enlightenment may have let us down somewhat.  We thought we were moving toward a concrete reality where we would have scientific descriptions for everything ... and controls for everything.  Disappointed?  Because there is so much more than we'll ever find described in words?  

Perhaps for now, we see as though looking through a murky glass, darkly; ... which is to say that 95% of everything, everywhere in the universe, is still unknown, undetectable, and 'dark'.  And that's the science of it as of 2016; almost all of everything is unseen and undescribed.  There's more beyond all of that as well.

“It is not that the meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.”   ― Haruki Murakami

... and, “If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”   ― Edward Hopper

You might enjoy Liberal Arts, too.
Happy New Year.  :)