The expression ‘known knowns and unknown unknowns’ has some currency, although it’s a clumsy phrase. It attempts to define what can be understood. In fiction that quest is typically drawn around relationships. Below are some excerpts from Nine Avenues which blend the mental and emotional conflict over understanding.
Sitting outside with an ice bucket and a full bottle I give the time over to loss, to mayhem; I like it, I mean I do like it, to be gone. Some people hold that the drink makes for smarter thought, and therefore able to see things more clearly, even see into people, but it only ever seems that way, and at the time. As it is with music and that is better and more powerful with the aid of some tune. Sad is best, it purifies all that we wish to be as a sympathetic person; or then a dance to evoke vitality and muscle. At once all human. Maybe I got my father’s ear for sound, not just music, but any sound. The music plays louder but is drowned in the ears by the drink. Numb. But on, on: with wild flaying called dance and then the floor appears at a fingernail’s space away, and any memory of how it happened has passed into the night. Mostly there is the talk, the truth, which has to be identified despite the fumbling for the correct word, the sentences gurgle, but what does it matter, there has never been such clarity in the head, it is radiant. And now, later, when the whole thing is over, now it comes back in slow passages because everything is in its right place, it seems so convincing; truth has been talking. “Dictionary”
The one necessary element that I sought was intelligible explanations that are credible, in order to improve my understanding. With that credo as my guide and compass I continued.
The religions, sciences and philosophies have become my library. I had not progressed into fiction or poetry as they seem to occlude understanding, to feed desires, unrealistic and impractical activity and unrequited wishes: the sensations, all of them personal, simple and childish. My ambition was to avoid those things, and be more resolute in the aim of rationality. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps I am pompous, but the aim seems right to me.
In quick succession I read through the other great theisms of humanity and gleaned that we share a more or less common description of the deity. Turning to science I was engrossed by geology, biology and physics; the outer worlds, those true to factual depiction, measured, known: but all too incredible for this fact to be fiction in the mind of a conceited writer. The size, the speed, the immensity of what we inhabit, and the scale of our own small selves adjusts any meaning of what we are. Forgive my tone, that is, of speaking on behalf of everyone; it is the product of absorbing religion and science in varying proportions. It has given me the idea of omnipotence, that I know everything; and what I do not know, I will surely know at a fixed time in the future. It makes a man self-satisfied by the acquisition of knowledge, like a cat after its meal. “Transcendence”
And she looked at him and said it. One word. That he no longer could trust her. A sentence. She said it as if another had failed her before. A measure of music that returns. She says it in a tone of sadness. It is her destiny. To watch him walk away. All of them. This man. And the ones before. In this room he said nothing. Before the trust was broken. Their words weigh less now. Not dependent on the other. Their words mortify. They fly untethered. Liberated. Unlocked by the other. His eyes roam the floor. He wants to escape. She wants him gone. In that he confirms her word. Departed. In the sound. He moves to leave. She will not stop him. She says she will not endure this any longer. He hears and swallows. To think of the right words. But say nothing. He hears her again. There is nothing he can do. Apart. She had made certain of it. She examines his face. He gives her nothing. Wooden stare. A face of no one. Anyone in the street. A frozen day face. He despairs of her. He asks himself questions. Were the things he said in the past true? Not true now. Is he himself now? That is over. Not ever now. He stares back at her. This woman is without hope. She is a carcass. They sense this passing. This ending. And she will not deny it too. Ended. Later, alone, in a chair, emptiness is stark. Clearer. Emptiness in the silence. He will hear it clearer then. He will know it better then. “Heard”
1 January 2014
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