Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I Put Nothing Beyond It

I don't want to resolve doubt. I like doubt. It keeps my mind open. I even like doubting things I don't actually doubt. What I don't want is paralyzing doubt. Doubt is like a spice to me. You don't want to make a meal of it, but a meal without it is kind of dull...

But unreasonable doubt is, well, unreasonable. When it comes to whether or not I am writing in English right now, I would say that I have no doubt that English is being written. None at all really, which, while it makes me suspicious, doesn't change my mind.

What I would doubt a little, and really just a little, is that the "I" in "I am writing in English." is who's really doing the writing. Or whether that "I" is real or not. Or whether "you" the reader are real or not. Or whether the physical reality in which I write and you read is real. About all of these things I have some doubt. Not enough to change my behavior significantly, but enough to keep me alert to the possibility that things might not be what they seem.

Since there's an "I" in anything I perceive, I have to include some doubt about that "I" in almost everything. Just some though. I exaggerate that doubt a bit to make a point.

I feel like the essential "me" is naked and at best a bit uncomfortable with that, so part of me is always putting on the "clothes" of certainty to make me feel better, but another part of me would rather just get used to being naked and is constantly undressing. One part keeps solving the mystery and the other part keeps reviving it. In between is where the action is for me, living in the tension stripping and dressing.

If pressed to be absolutely as accurate as possible I would say I'm not certain of anything, not even that last statement. But in everyday life, I accept the necessary compromise and say, Yes, I'm sure, when what I really mean is that I'm virtually sure. And virtually means almost but not.

I have to say things that aren't strictly true, but are virtually true. Keeping this in mind keeps me from being too certain. It keeps doubt alive. And I like doubt. Doubt to me is a wonderful thing that keeps life from getting stale and keeps me from mistaking words for the things they describe.

I think there’s always something "wrong" with any statement. Not in the logical sense, but in the sense that there is always room for doubt or an alternative point of view. Every truth starts with some assumptions. Examine those and you will find room for "error" or inaccuracy. As I say in my song “You Are Wrong”, even "1 + 1 = 2" assumes that there is such thing as "one" or "two" of anything, that separate things exist, that boundaries exist, that adding things together exists, and that two things can be "equal". You may very well make all these assumptions, I do all the time in everyday life, but you don't have to. You could also assume that "1 + 1 =2" is an error ridden convenience that makes lots of things work better.

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