Not long ago, another man living in New York, this one in his mid-50s and working in investment banking, took a trip upstate on one Friday. This man, who’s pretty polymathic, is a scientific rationalist, mostly. He was to be away for three days at an event where psychedelics would be taken on Saturday, and this experience would be facilitated by practitioners who would be playing music throughout the day.
While speaking with me afterward, he said, “I cannot say that there is nothing.” He doesn’t yet want to say that there is definitely more to reality than science and math can describe, yet he’s less willing to take a hard rationalist stance after this experience. There might be something (or Something), which is decidedly not a thing.
Fair enough. Let’s be measured to start off with. Let’s not fly off the handle.
This, frankly, is all I need to get the next philosophical inquiry underway. One’s certainties, especially as they relate to the orange meme (scientific rationalism) or the green meme (postmodern relativism plus cultural studies), must be subjected to great doubt. But not the kind of doubt that comes through mere intellectualizing. Not at all. It must be the kind of doubt that is born thickly of experience and therefore, to the one in the midst of it, is undeniable. To this one, there emerges a new softness and, provided it’s held onto, a desire to know.
I ask you, reader, Can you find that crack within yourself? Can you find that new softness, that place where your certainties melt into liquid wonder? If so, you would do well to illumine its vague shape, the vague shape of that, of that nearly unspeakable not-nothing, lest you betray it–and yourself–by forgetting it and, worse, by forgetting that you forgot it. No, I say to you now: Remember! Remember this experience! And by remembering it, let it me precisely what guides the rest of your life.
To remember it is, properly understood, to let it animate all of you henceforth.