Saturday, June 11, 2016

On Knowledge

Knowledge is what you know, said Gertrude Stein. What do I know? I know that kaolin is a fine white clay and that black is a color and energy is a capacity for action. I know that true substance develops in solitude and that the nervous system of a crab pursues the architecture of independence. The slide into essence hustles my sense of warranty. It begins with my sense of alienation and mutates into a longing for monarchy. The ooze of existence turns green with semantic lamination. Fluorescence summons the caress of choice. The hives are full. The plays illustrate our lack of control.
I know what gravity is, that is to say, I know that it exists and that I can feel it, I experience it, but I don’t know what it is, what makes it work. I know that it has something to do with space and mass and forming stars out of hydrogen and the curvature of the spacetime continuum. I know that it’s why coffee doesn’t float out of my Beatles mug. I know that it’s why I can sit here typing this and that time moves more slowly in a job you hate and that it’s notorious for drawing bodies together. I know that it is a fundamental cause of formation, shape, trajectory and methadone treatments.
I know that if I lift an object the object has weight. My body has weight. I know that I can’t fight gravity. What would I punch? I’ve already tried flying. It doesn’t work unless I get into an airplane. Flying in an airplane isn’t the same as flying by my own willpower like Superman.
I wonder if one day people will be able to take a pill that makes you weightless? Wouldn’t that be a gas.
I know that poetry is, in a certain measure, like gravity, since so much of it remains a mystery. Poetry is a form of dark matter. That is to say, it holds the eyes like a hill holds the sky.
The night sky.
I know that friction and hunger are a major cause of war and that gymnasiums are often noisy. I know that there’s a certain charming rapport between mohair and oak. I know that I know more than I know is a possibility but I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t know how to court and marry a crocodile without coercion and shoes.
I know that my life has a purpose but I don’t know what it is. Or was. Or could be. Or might be. I imagine most people have that same instinctive feeling. But is it instinctive or just necessary? Why else would anyone endure the pains of existence without a little occasional pleasure and a reason, a sense of destiny, a direction. I guess if you’ve got kids that takes care of that problem. You live for your kids. But if you don’t have kids you’ve got to have faith in something. You can have faith in your own skepticism.
This is a knowledge that mingles well with corollaries and finance. It’s difficult to know what motivates people to do what they do. I’m often surprised at how little I know myself. I often do things without knowing why I did them. I do them and then I wonder why, why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why did I fall in love with that sidewalk? Why do I like to pop the bubbles in plastic wrap?
I know that if a nation charges a lot of money for education that it creates a structure of sharp class division and will not hold together as a nation.
I know that if I express an opinion the chances are that more people will disagree than agree with it. How do I know that? I have a lifetime of expressing opinions. My opinions generally piss people off. That’s because I took at things from the perspective of art and poetry, the acuity of wild horses or the audacity of froth. I have a difficult time finding the perspective of a more commercial outlook. This makes me highly qualified to rob banks or regret lost opportunities but poorly equipped to manage a rock and roll band or supervise a customer service center at an Ikea store.
I have no idea how TV, radio, computers, electricity, or light work. But I do know how to eat soup with a spoon and build a correspondence with a fellow writer.
I know the meaning of control and try not to lose what little of it I have within my possession.
I know the joys of possession also invite misery.
I know that Neil Young was born in Canada and that B minor is a sad chord.
Don’t ask me about relationships. I wouldn’t know where to begin.
I would begin with a thermometer. And end with a sigh.

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