not knowing

I’ve been interested in the processes and values of not knowing and attention for such a long time. Here, Bryan Saner writes beautifully about knowledge and the limitations of knowledge:

In order for humans to believe or say anything with certainty we tend to select what we view. This selection is sometimes related to the characteristics of our physical body … We close one eye and look through a telescope to see the universe.

Yet sometimes what we see through these lenses shakes our world and challenges our previous identities or philosophical and spiritual ideologies. We thought that the world was flat, now we think it is round. That realization was a catastrophic shift for us. Scientific and philosophical upheavals throughout history that have totally changed our view of life and the universe are based on these glimpses of the part, without totally understanding the whole. Any philosophical or theological construct we have to live by, any ethical standard or concept of reality, is based on us looking at the world through a keyhole.

Maybe we don’t need to see the whole truth of the universe. We may not be ready for it. Maybe it’s best that we get bits and pieces slowly, as in a process of becoming. Perhaps what we should concentrate on is becoming comfortable with not understanding everything that is going on. Perhaps we should be comfortable with not seeing everything. After all, the beginning of knowledge is not knowing.

Alternative Spaces and Vision, Bryan Saner (2001), in Stephen Bottoms and Matthew Goulish. 2007. Small Acts of Repair: Performance, Ecology, and Goat Island. London: Routledge, p.37

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