|Some of the things I write, like this little fling today, just seem to wander through my head like a drifting dust-devil on a long-rainless prairie, like tumbleweeds in some west Texas ghost-town's dusty, deserted, streets: my mind just delivers them like pizzas; and, when done, I can't figure out why I wrote them, why they have double anchovy toppings, or what they were/are about: surely, that must mean they are Art, or something profound ?
So, I share this with Thee only (nothing personal) because my Principle of "Suffering shared is suffering diluted" demands it ! Although, I thoroughly believe that the great spiritual master, Groucho Marx, uttered a profound truth (as with all great truths, embodying a paradox) when he said: "These are my principles; if you don't like them, I've got others."
"Test-of-Truth ?" copyright 2012, William Woodruff, published here under the terms of CPPLL, the CodeProject Poetic-License License.
I have come to believe that other people know me better than I can ever know myself, but: that I don't know how much they know; or, whether: what I think they know has been based on a foundation of lies created by myself, possibly accidentally, possibly purposefully. I omit the issue of whether lies can be a metaphor to convey more truth than what passes for "normal truth," because: this is not a French restaurant: this is a diner: there is no "buffet" here: just point to the picture on the wall of the meal you want, and nod your head: the person that takes your order is deaf and dumb, but they will fetch your food.
But, I recognize they (other people) have a right to create who I really am without their recognizing my right to create who I really am: even though, that's not an issue here, because: as I just already stipulated: I believe they do know me better. If they know me better, why should they give me the right to know them, or myself, better ?
That would be like the smart bending over for the dumb: wouldn't it ? Damn-right: they shouldn't give a damn, and, if they do, that's probably a sign of weakness, and that could be a reflection on them, which is an insult to all of us, since I'm one of them (to them, that is: of course, I'm not "one of them" to myself). Which is how wars start.
The question, which will not be answered here is: if I, also, do: know other people better than they know themselves, why couldn't it be possible that I would know what they think of me ? If that were the case, then wouldn't it also be logical to assume that with my superior knowledge of them, I could then infer, from their superior knowledge of me, one version of what I was; and, then: by adding that version to the version inherent in my own sense of who I am: I could, in theory, interpolate the two versions into a synoptic version with, a logician, or ontologist, or proctologist, might argue, more hypothetical power to predict future behavior (which, some would say: is: the "Test-of-Truth") ?
That puts us (I hope you don't mind my mentioning you here in a way that implies we're at all similar) into the near-the-end-zone of endlessly micro-comicizing Archimedean paradoxical distances, as legions of tortoises lumber by us to score touch-downs, which may be fabulous, and mythic, as hell, but will hardly pay for our meal in cash (no credit cards here !), and get us home in time to watch the latest episode of you-know-what.
Of course, once we miss an episode, there is no more history, unless it comes around again in exactly the same way: which is an issue, by the way, we (meaning, primarily, "I") don't want to even admit is on the table now, given how much tsuris we've already hip-deep in ... and trying to wade-out of un-lopsidedly soaked ... right here.
Well ... wait a minute ... time-out ... let's take a step back ... from the edge of some kind of infinite aloneness, that we've walked out on, and, suddenly, realized the depth of the abyss on either side of us ... suddenly remembered that we are deathly afraid of these heights ... and these depths, next to them.
If I admit to an infinite aloneness in which I can never know myself without infinitely, recursively, being yo-yo'd up-and-down, between a something called "everyone-else" and a something I call "myself:" if I admit that is both terrifying and intolerable ... that on some level we (the melted form of the two somethings) need to cuddle together primate-wise, a horde cradled in some sense of "collectivity," bound to each other by need, and fear ...
... achieving that necessary binding by our innate tricks of creating angels and demons, and a deity, or deities: remote and vanished, infinite and omnipresent, helter-skelter, or eternally consistent, indifferent or judging every act, thought and intention ... deity ... thirty-two flavors, or one flavor, or beyond flavor.
A deity having created, and, then, abandoned, the universe (Cabala) in which we pretentious primates, that dare to family-name ourselves, as species, "Sapiens" (wise), are trapped in a labyrinth named "soul," or, a deity watching every behavior of we spiritual pygmies, keeping score of runs-at-bat (virtue) tallied against fouls and strike-outs (sin). Or, deity totally indifferent to us, as a side-effect of a transcendental reality so far beyond our limited range of perceptions that we can make no "sense:" only say, throwing up our hands, as we quit struggling with epistemology: "moving in mysterious ways;" or, non-existent as a primordial essence of non-existence itself (the "void," sunyam): our experience of our existence as individual being: illusion (samskara, maya: in Buddhism, and Advaita Vedanta non-dualism).
Then: is it time to put away our inside-the-skull wet-ware analog computer's games, our innate morphemes of meaning (see Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker), and the greatest cognitive tool, language (the child soaking up their "mother-tongue's" language(s) grammar, words, idioms, accent, like a sponge in a unique developmental "window" of juvenile time): that great tool then used to both ... as the root of thought itself ... and the subsequent expression of thoughts into glyphemes (alphabet, symbol, icon, rune), and, finally, into speech incarnated as phonemes (see Pinker), all within a flux of flickering consciousnesses, all modulated by social context, set-and-setting, norms-mores-ethos ... and ... what ?
Shall we ever be free of continually comparing who we thought we were with who we think we are now, and what we might be tomorrow, and then comparing that with what we think, and guess, other people think about us, and then, through re-generative feedback, going around the ferris-wheel of comparison Forever-and-Ever ?
How can it be an "honest answer" to any, or all, of the above, to say: "I don't know;" or, "I don't know if it's knowable" ? On the other hand, how can it not be to some degree a "dishonest answer" to say: "I know;" or, "I know that it is knowable" ? Do these fudges' rhetorical equivalence (Kantian antimony ?) leave us open to a cosmic sucker-punch when the Test-of-Truth examiner points out, explaining our barely-passing grade, that both statements about "knowability" imply certainty, which assumes "knowability" ?
"Who," you may ask, is the "Test-of-Truth" examiner ? Is it you, I, we, some collectivity we are part of, small, or large ? A Super-Sized Hero wolfing down super-sized Happy Meals; a Grim Reaper harvesting our admissions of defeat with schadenfreude ?
What if I were to refuse to carry on with this journey one noun or verb further ? What if I declared, as if I knew, that the "Test-of-Truth" is a waste of time, and that Wisdom is the result of the destruction of the cognitive structures we instinctively, and continually, create, to rationalize whatever we actually feel, think, and do: our behavior driven by instinct, and instant "threat assessment," and "fight-or-flight" lower-level neural processing in the amygdala, and the limbic system, our "reptile" heritage brain-stem (see Daniel Kahneman): our cognitive, conscious experience, a secondary phenomenon: in time, following behavior, like a musician who's always playing lagging behind the beat, instead of on it ?
Do four very simple words, "habit," "fear," "desire," and, "greed," explain everything needed to be explained: nicely enough to get by on ?
Why don't I just actually take my own advice, remember my very own words, writ here:
"What if I were to refuse to carry on with this journey one noun or verb further ? What if I declared, as if I knew, that the "Test-of-Truth" is a waste of time, and that Wisdom is the result of the destruction of the cognitive structures we instinctively, and continually, create"
And, just shut-up, and stop hanging-around here, never expressing the really stupid questions on my mind like: "Do you still love me ?"
"We live in a world ruled by fictions: mass merchandising, advertising, politics as advertising, instant translation of science, technology, into popular imagery, increasing blur of identity in realms of consumer goods, preempting any free, original, imaginative, response to experience by the television screen. We live in an enormous novel. For a writer it's less necessary to invent a novel's fictional content: fiction's already there. A writer's task is to invent a reality." J. G. Ballard, 1974