Toad in the Hole

December 13, 2006

Boundaries

CG boat w/crane

(You can enlarge any photo on this blog by clicking on it and then picking the size on Flickr. But you knew that.)

Something about the weather today -- misty rain, just a little chilly, damn near underwater but friendly, not drowny -- made me think of the fact that the sharp edges we think are around everything are partly illusion, that we're mostly water, as the old saw says, that after a few good rains it seems that the ground we stand on (in!) is mostly water too, that atoms are mostly space -- all that stuff that the woowoos drag out into Cosmic Revelations -- well, yeah, it's true. It doesn't necessarily mean anything besides the bald fact, but true enough that that doesn't matter.

Half the categories we draw are in our own heads only, and mostly a matter of making reality graspable. But that's only half, and reality isn't just stuff we make up; we do perceive something outside our heads. Which half is which: there's the interesting question.

No, I do not think we invent the world. We're not that big a deal. Deciding we can't see it all and therefore it doesn't matter what we honestly do see, that's a cheat. We do need to keep a sense of humility, though, and realize that we know so little, that there's so much more than we've figured out so far, that there's space for discovery forever, that we're part of it all, not its owners or inventors.

That what we navigate isn't the only surface, and boundaries are partly determined by our own construction.

Posted at December 13, 2006 06:22 AM

Comments

Nice. That photo looks like something my mom would have painted in pastels on pearl grey paper and using only about three colors. (I mention this in case you're still thinking about making your own paintings.)

I had to come to terms long ago with the facts that (a) I wasn't going to "save" the world all by myself and (b) there is more in the universe than I can ever possibly know, including an enormous range of things from countries I won't visit to whether god(s) exist(s), and beyond, in both directions, and that I therefore need to pick my battles, my fights as well as my struggles to know and understand, in order to maximize whatever little powers I do have. I think that kind of boundary-setting is sane. However, if I didn't have something new to learn or see every single day, I think I'd kill myself.

There's always another surface, and there's always something else beyond, and thank goodness this is so!

Posted by: Sara at December 13, 2006 05:54 PM


Yes, I am still thinking. I have yet to set pencil, pen, brush, whatever to paper but I'm still thinking. One of the major bitternesses I still -- after ten years -- have about this house is that there isn't space for my drawing table, which is mouldering away in the cesspit-garage.

As for saving the world, I heard someone sorts joking, some years back, about how "we thought we were going to save the world." "Well," I said or thought (don't remember), "We did -- it's still here, isn't it?" One bit of humility I learned when I was a nurse is that saving a life is always temporary.

Posted by: Ron at December 15, 2006 04:57 AM


I wrote a whole dissertation about boundaries and how we construct them, so I do have a stake in the subject (though my claims to knowledge about them are limited). I like Wittgenstein's take on them, particularly his concept of boundaries for a purpose. Also, a quote, from Husserl, I always heard, though I can't confirm: The map is not the territory. but you already knew that.

Posted by: narya at December 15, 2006 11:51 AM


Your posts and the comments are such a good read. I wonder - if you were to state one true thing - a Truth - a place where boundaries and abstractions and irony stop and only 'knowing' illuminates the void - what would that be?

Posted by: Cathy at December 16, 2006 11:33 PM