Maybe we could go out for coffee
Great, or maybe we could go somewhere
and just eat a bunch of caramels.
When you think about it, it’s just as
arbitrary as drinking coffee.
— Good Will Hunting
I just finished a great sci-fi novel (Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson) wherein a character is convinced that knowledge is discovered, not created. The distinction seemed false and arbitrary to me. Swift googlery revealed that others have bothered to have opinions on this, so I guess it’s more than just a trope. On the “discovery” side of the ledger, we might post Archimedes and his flash of insight regarding specific gravity. On the creation side reside, I believe, not only legitimate synergistic and innovative applications of existing knowledge within a scientific theoretical framework to create the never-before-known, but also all those attempts to apply language to understanding that require nuanced distinctions and arbitrary dimensional shifts in order to lend a fresh perspective, to restate the mundane. The former are meaningful. The latter devoid of meaning. Viva, I suppose, la differance.
Knowledge can be created when there is theory to lend a framework, a perspective for discovery. For years the atomic chart had holes in it. But experimentalists devised methods to isolate the previously undiscovered elements and thus created knowledge of their existence.
Fresh perspectives yield new theoretical frameworks, and within these frameworks undiscovered information waits to be revealed, hidden knowledge to be discovered, or created. This is a modern sensibility that fuses the arbitrary distinction between created and discovered knowledge. Knowledge is seldom discovered or created and never described outside of a theoretical framework, and the controlling irony of scientific investigation is that the purest and most parsimonious application of Occam’s razor yields an understanding of systems that evolve from simplicity to chaos.
The wish to convey one’s understanding of the world to others asserts one’s existence. That most blogs are nothing more than online journals is decisive, for the intent is not to communicate one’s thoughts to oneself, but are, rather, intentioned attempts to share oneself with others, and is, thus, necessarily a way to discover or create community, to find someone who will witness one’s thoughts, one’s experience. It is a call that says “I am living, and this is what I see, what I feel, what I think” â€” whether or not that call is answered. The desire to blog is a testament to our innate wish to connect with others: it is tossing out a line into the ether, one that asserts our existence through our voice, a voice that wants to be heard; or, put another way, they are messages in a bottle tossed into the ocean that is the blogosphere, messages which have the potential of finding a sympathetic reader who understands; and thus a connection is made, a community is formed.
My post today on Caramels is the kind of thing that few will value… it’s ruminative at best and it adds little to anyone else’s understanding of the world. There are many bloggers whose brilliance and sensitivity I respect who seem to understand the world in the context of creation of knowledge through verbal exploits. I try to temper with humility my certainty that they are wrong, that “post-modern theory” is objectively a construct that has pushed aside the most promising and legitimate lines of inquiry in the areas of artistic criticism, political governance, psychology and social studies making room for the global emergence of corporate fascism.
I’m pleased that there are those like Bruce, Ray, J. Alva, Norm, Leslie, and many others in my corner of the blogosphere who are willing occasionally to entertain, and be entertained by my retro-socialist observations and convictions.
I hope that in 2024 we can have a CaramelCon, and all come together somewhere to enjoy each other’s company.