Knowledge is a catalog of (human) experience.
Human is in parenthies because in the post I will be dealing ony with human experience and knowledge. I’m impartial to wether or not animals can have knowledge.
Experiences can be exterior or interior. Exterior experience relies on your (5? 9? 19? 21?) human senses. Inner experience can be acquired through dreams, meditation, psychedelics, or other such things of this nature. Either way, these experiences are then compressed into memories, a inner catalog of previous experience. These can be recalled and reflected upon, but will never be the same again.
The pinch-point, bottleneck, limiting of this experience truly comes in the attempt to express it to others. Some would argue that knowledge is only that which can be shared. I argue that very little of our knowledge can actually be shared.
Language is the tool that we as a species have chosen for communication and the sharing of knowledge and information, but it is not the only medium out there. Here’s one of my favorite short films of all time:
The beautiful use of light, color, and slo-motion in this film perfectly communicates something words never could. “She slowly opened the curtain. Everything was grey. People began fluttering about slowly in the sky.” It’s just not the same…
…and from now on the miracle is confined within the meaning of the word.
Our cultural myth is a linguistic construct that we culturally validate and live inside.
– Terence Mckenna
Here he is referring to the example of the bird in the nursery from the clip I played in class. Let me explain the second line a bit. Terence believes that culture is your enemy. The cultural myth is that we know something, or everyone knows a little something. Buddhists might be right about this, Christians might know something about that, science says it knows a lot about a lot, but Terence would say the truth is nobody knows jack sh*t about whats going on! The only thing you have to base your life on is your experience, what you can see, hear, feel in your heart, imagine in your dreams, etc. When we participate in this cultural myth we’re missing out on that individual experience. Instead we’re simply validating what could very possibly be proven ridiculous at a later date.
Great, where does language come in? Well our society and culture is constructed by its language. We live every day of our lives in an inescapable world of English. The limits that the English language had, and the way it is set up (feMALE/woMAN/MANkind) imprisons us from pure experience. Worth it? Yeah probably, my iPhone is pretty cool.
Great art speaks a language which every intelligent person can understand. The people who call themselves modernists today speak a different language.
I’ll finish by saying this. McLuhan believes that moving forward art will have a sort of second coming, a new renaissance if you will. Artist can use their language form (whether that be music, dance, film, whatever) to convey beauty, expression, human emotion, and human experience between one another. Those with minds open and evolved enough to pay attention can see this. You can see this. You can see this now! All around you! It’s the abstract, the strange, and though it may not be as comfortable to you as living in linguistic culture, it might just be more fun.