An infinite series of concentric circles. Thus is defined “knowledge”, or a search for knowledge, our mental sojourning through life. We, unable to step through the same river twice, physically change and garner new tastes and unearth new possibilities, owing an acknowledgment to the unequivocal volition of flux as time crawls along. And, in doing so, our intellect (our actual ability to absorb knowledge, not how “smart” we are) be not necessarily affected, but our breadth of experience expands and we achieve closer proximity to actual knowledge, step closer towards true attainment of. Our numerous, perennial endeavors at a possible possession of knowledge, quantitatively, are not defined by how many wrinkles appear in the face of our lifeless corpse, nor by the number of years passed since the one of conception, but how many rings were in our tree of experience. Our concentric circles, not standardized tests, attest in full to our breadth of experience in hopes of attaining knowledge; “intelligence” is a purely arbitrary term and ascertaining an exact idea of “knowledge” is frivolous.
One cannot know anything without having explored other possibilities, both expanding and, occasionally, incorporating regressing theories, digging back into practices and ideologies of the past. Every experience expands your breadth of “knowledge”, and, quite often, discredits experiences, theories and/or possibilities from before. You step into the next circle, newly formed, without knowledge that it even existed until you already resided within its walls.
Whilst in the walls of your current circle, and perception being your only reality, you accept what your senses and experience give you. Empiricism, a double-edged sword, one that provides both the alleged truth of the senses but also becomes the crutch on which one may lean in order to avoid thought of the abstract, a scrupulous reading between the lines. People hate to have their illusions shattered. A crutch is far more welcoming.
Your current circle, that is to say, where you currently stand in life, is “knowledge”. But life gives you a new lens through which to interpret with every experience you have: you chew something, sometimes for minutes, sometimes for decades on end, only to spit it out and march voraciously into the next circle. And it is from this point, notwithstanding your progress, that you may choose to look back into the other circles. Permit yourself! Remember who you are, and, just as crucial, how you became who you are. Do not attempt to step back into the inner circles (you cannot), but the ability to at least examine and remember your naivete and ineptitude is memory’s benevolence; a necessary admonishment. One cannot step back into a previous circle because, in accordance with perpetual motion, one is always changing and growing, and to pretend to step back into an old circle is done with an ignorant back turned towards actual “knowledge”. The outermost circle, which is where one always currently is, is one’s “truth”, but always an ephemeral one; it is the altitudinous plain of “knowledge”, the absolute non-absolute ceiling. This is where one gets content only to later find their contentment was confounded with complacency. That is, of course, as long as one is brave enough to leave their “knowledge” to explore the other possibilities. One must grow or die, the choice is up to the individual. Does one find it important, sacrosanct perhaps, to cling to an ideology? You’re floating on a very ignorant, precarious little raft if you’ve not discredited every other one available to you.
When someone says “I know”, what is it that they know versus what they infer? And, if they do, in fact, possess a “truth”, as it happens in the moment, but not their ultimate truth, do they possess anything at all? A commonplace example, perhaps the most ubiquitous, is love. One may claim to be in love, and feel they’ve hit the ceiling of love, one from where there can be no more room to grow, no greater love to be had. They end up falling out of this love, and whilst in search of a similar one (and perhaps plagued with fear that any subsequent love will never match up to it), end up finding one even greater that stays with them till the end of their life. The questions thus follow: did they originally even possess the “knowledge” of what love is? Or just a representation of the real thing they were subconsciously searching for, a mere shadow cast on the wall? And, could they step back into the circle from before? Or only think that they could, because they’d still be living in the outermost one, facing inward, back turned to the actual truth? To illustrate, a man falls deeply in love and claims to “know love”. He has hit the ceiling, the outermost circle possible. But, in an alternate scenario, what if his lover unexpectedly died? And his “knowledge”, though his purported ceiling, is discredited and pushed back a circle by another love he discovers several years into the future? He may thus conclude that his ceiling was no ceiling at all. Perhaps we die only believing we are at the ceiling. But, I believe, the true reality of knowledge, is such that it can never truly be obtained, because new circles will never stop being created. And that is not to say because we learn more, it is to say that we believe less of what we did before. It is common sense to assume that one could read books for the rest of eternity and learn more and more; that’s entirely deductive, it is not what I aim to illustrate. If one were to live eternally, it is not that they would keep learning more facts, but they would possess truer knowledge every day because beliefs and dearly held “truths” would be discredited. There is no end point for this. For as difficult as it is to imagine that there is no ending to knowledge one can inculcate unto themselves, it is even more difficult to imagine that there is an ending! Experiences leave indelible impressions; you can never truly go back. Even in residing docilely in your outermost circle, the one in which you “know” you’ve hit the ceiling, the “actual” outer circles, the ones that do not yet exist, are still calling to you, demanding you hearken to what they purport.
You, like the seasons, the species, the creatures of all shapes and sizes and plants and colors and the energy that permits existence itself, are in perpetual motion. When you’ve stepped into a new circle, and feel euphoric at the monolith of a divine wall of truth that reigns before you, know that that wall too, will, one day, but be even more dust under memory’s feet. You will adorn fresh eyes and step into a new circle. Always. That is if, and only if, you choose to shake up life. If you choose to go through the door you always lived in fear of. If you choose to try that forbidden spice on the rack. If you pick up the holy book of which you always were afraid of or the political ideology of which you were told is evil, of which you were told is wrong. Murder is the crime of taking a life, but indoctrination is the crime of taking one’s freedom – murder of the mind, the spirit, the soul. I would rather give you my dead body than my dead mind or dead ambition; bury me in the Earth before I utter a single word of the obsequious. We never know what we think we know, and will never live a long life and die with true knowledge. Because, had you lived longer, you would have breached the wall into a new circle and had yet again another revelation that would have shattered all the comfort you knew as “truth”. That is, if you’re brave enough to let it happen.
Tony Blau Veldt, 07/10-07/27/2014