When my petulant friend insists that, despite all difficulties in establishing the truth of the matter, there remains something that actually is the truth of the matter, he seems to be betting all his emotional stock; he seems to be banking on a reckless assumption. Plainly put, that you can actually ever know this truth, like face to face. Do we not live in a mystery, my friend? No answer. Joviality does not work, I have found out; my petulant friend does not see that he is ridiculous. Instead, he feels it meet (he feels it fit) to quarrel. The big obstacle-fact tugging uncomfortably at him–and we (all of us!)–is that we (and notably him!) can never know anything for certain. At least not while we still have some wiggle room. Which is to say, are alive! And that is funny. What I say, and I am afraid it is plain as day on my face (and that may prove an adjunct annoyance), is that it is always instead incumbent upon us, who know that we shall never know, under the present circumstances, exactly what it is, that has actually happened, to get us into this quandary (life), or any refractory sub-confusion, to proceed with uncertainty in all methods of inquiry. That is what gives respect to the bragging mystery, of what actually happened. And spawns all these adjectives.
For it keeps the unknown. It suspends judgement. And, most importantly this acknowledgement does not confuse the truth with the other category of the actual: the present. It is precisely this sliding together of the category of things that have already happened, into the realm where things are now happening–to us in the world of experience; this is what causes confusion, and all consequent moods of petulance. I like that, consequent moods of petulance. I will save that and use it when I write my next book. Meanwhile, this confusion is used by proselytizers of already established systems of belief, and fear mongers of all stripes, merchants who would have our friend invest in all sorts of dreadful schemes, which unfortunately I do not have the patience to go into right now.
Sometimes petulant people insist that there is a proven scientific reality to what has already happened, spanning all time. This heady thesis is betrayed in jargon often, and sung about in textbooks. Sometimes I hear the drumbeat of pagan religion; which seems most twisted, considering every religion wallows in mystery, and revelation of more mystery. False hope is engendered that one can actually be face to face with the facts of what happened in the past, as if the frenzy of assembling evidence of events can actually replace the event itself–and bring back a vanished world. When it is actually impossible that what already happened could in any way still be what it was. Even the thinking about it, or the remembering of it, adds to it.
Still! The content of what actually happened is in some way eternally valid. It definitely was; and just so, it has become a sacred, irrecoverable terrain. Do you get it? What happened before must be informing our present thinking. Now I am inspired. There is even the possibility that it is capable of a repetition, though we know perfectly well we have not the means to engender such an apocalypse. Nor do we desire it. But we desire emphatically to live in a world that is always new. And yet the same. I get it. The very familiarity of experience, that we live in the same world day to day, depends upon our assumption that it, the world, is at the same time always new. This is time. Blooming, buzzing time.
But just as we can see that what actually happened in the past must be real, we also know that we cannot know what it actually was, just because the fact of our knowing it makes it different. I don’t care how many times I trip and fall. There still is no objective viewing; and it is the recognition of this complex situation that actually respects the reality of what ever happened. But when someone insists that there is a thing that, beyond all investigation and thought, still must be what actually happened, and acts, pugnaciously, like it could actually be found, like brought into the room, it shows they are not going to deal with it at all. They will not take it into their thinking; they are actually afraid to face the complexity of life–which, simply put, is that it is both real and unknowable. Did I say, pugnaciously? I lost the cipher-word; it was petulant. My petulant friend . . . that’s what got me going.