On Unknowing

The mystery of the void is that the absence beyond knowledge is indistinguishable (and arguably identical) to that within. Our embodied experience of life and knowing then become less the container of a mystery and more that other mystery that is itself simply an island of transience amongst all this unknowing.

There is a tradition in medieval Christian mysticism which speaks of the “Cloud of Unknowing” and the method of apophatic introspection. The method of apophasis (literally “un-saying”) is not entirely dissimilar to Cartesian Doubt in that they reduce all the contents of mind and/or experience until left with what in their interpretation must only be God.

In the Daoist and Zen traditions, this void is approached somewhat differently but leads us to quite a similar place, even if it is called by a different name. The question then becomes by various paths and narrative strategies one of whether or not we are willing to admit infinity into discourse and, if so, the extent to which the infinite and the void are essentially the same entity.

The problem when discussing things that must forever lie beyond language (or cognition as knowledge) is that the language with which we do so is definitively unfit for this lofty purpose.

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