Grasping at the Incomprehensible

in #philosophy4 months ago


like a cloud leaving wet traces on my hand
the grasping at knowledge seems like
an ever-disappearing ever-moving vanishing act
that dissipates in front of my eyes
retiring into the void leaving only a trace

The more I read, the less I know. Or, the more I read, the more things I know even less about. The goalpost is constantly moved. Moved from one idea to the next concept. Understanding is sure to follow soon, I try to convince myself.

But this seems like a lie I know by heart to calm my searching soul.

The feeling to know more constantly pushes me forward, seduced by the next idea, the next concept, the next article, the next book, I completely forget what I was busy with. It is never enough, a constant deferral to the next. In an infinite spiderweb, always one extra layer, infinite. Spiralling out into the void.

I trace my steps back, infinite breadcrumbs in either direction. I choose the most likely pathways to find some security in remembering but the way leads nowhere, just more of the same difference. I grasp at the incomprehensible and all that I manage to grab is the same breadcrumb, the same trance, the same reminder that led me to this very position of confusion.


Understanding is soon to follow, I tell myself. But my mind is full of moving parts, seemingly interconnected and leading toward better understanding, wisdom, knowledge, but as soon as I grab at something, I feel everything depart, like a dream in which you cannot move yet you are surrounded by movement. Similarly, I feel like I have something, something akin to understanding, but then the edifice I was building crumbles into nothing but a droplet, a trace, a semblance of what I thought was there.

All the while, there is something inside of me that wants to claw out of me, toward this elusive "understanding". It wants to claw through my mouth, my eyes, my nose. I cannot sit still, as staying in place awakens it, it wants to know, gnaw, crawl, out of me. It wants to understand.

Maybe this is merely the personification of something deep inside of me that years to understand what seems at first incomprehensible. The first step toward walking the highest mountain is filled with both exhilaration and nativity. Opening a 1000-page treatise on understanding, one is filled with the same emotions. Youthful ignorance, naivety, and exhilaration, the apprentice ready to learn the craft from the masters. Yet, the book is a lifeless object imitating the master.


It is said that the ancient Greeks thought that merely being in the presence of the master was enough to make one's cup runneth over with. But the book is not basking in the author's presence. The article is not the master's presence. These are mere tools that the master uses to sharpen his wit, his mind, her soul, her presence. So what does it help trying to use someone else's tools to sharpen your mind? It leads merely to more questions.

And the mistake, oh, the mistake, is to try and understand these treatises of understanding. One concept leads to the next, the edifice built using its own stilts. Pull one out and the whole thing crumbles. Think about it. Concepts are needed to construct a work, but we need to understand said concepts to construct the edifice. The whole thing becomes a self-referential nightmare that leads most into circles, infinitely lost from the mere attempt to understand.

It is funny, the more I read, the more I understand that everything is interconnected. The more interconnected the world becomes, the less stable it is. Because if we pull on one string, the whole thing might collapse. And this is driving the thing inside of me insane, as the more I read, the more I realise that understanding originates with not knowing. By knowing, we already forfeited the opportunity to understand for the very simple reason that we cloud our judgement with preconceived ideas.

The open mind is the prerequisite for understanding.

Postscriptum, Or Through This Door No One Shall Go

I am struggling to cope under the pressure of the edifice I am building for myself. Reading opens doors but it also closes other doors. Understanding is a strange thing. Breaking something down into constituent parts is troubling as one creates a new network far more complex for a single person to understand, as these constituent elements need a host of other things to understand. Leading one into the infinite regressing cycle of constantly jumping from one concept to another just to understand the previous one.

And this is how I currently feel. I am jumping around in a never-ending battle of trying to understand the incomprehensible.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this rambling or verbal diarrhoea.

Keep well.

All of the writings are my own. The photographs are also my own, taken with my Nikon D300.


At least you KNOW you don't know the half of it. It's when we assuredly think we absolutely know all of it then the problems start.

Sometimes I wish I was an ignorance is bliss kinda girl. Don't look. Be happy.

For sure. Socratic ignorance as we call it in philosophy, as the old greek man presumably said he is wise because he knows that he knows nothing (which is knowledge in some sense so he kinda screwed himself there).

Same here, but I am so curious. Always reading one more book on some obscure subject, just one more article on a philosophy that no one knows about. The luxury of the internet that gives us infinite possibilities to research in.

But again, blissfully ignorant would have been better. In some sense.