Monday, May 28, 2007

What we don't know

An ode to our terrible ignorance of life and the world we live in and the fact that life continues completely oblivious as to whether we understand it or not. Larkin raises a profound epistemological point. Can we know anything at all?
Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
Of what is true or right or real,
But forced to qualify or so I feel,
Or Well, it does seem so:
Someone must know.


Strange to be ignorant of the way things work:
Their skill at finding what they need,
Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed,
And willingness to change;
Yes, it is strange,

Even to wear such knowledge - for our flesh
Surrounds us with its own decisions -
And yet spend all our life on imprecisions,
That when we start to die
Have no idea why.

On the other hand, the recognition of our ignorance is what motivates scientists who, in turn, pose new questions and shift the boundaries of our ignorance.

1 comment:

Neil said...

I didn't know you were also a Larkin fan, Rajeev. You and I will have to start a society for the propagation of Larkin's blunt and unillusioned view of the universe, which for some reason always strikes me as far more comforting than the usual happy-clappy bullshit the world has on offer... at any rate, he's a great one to read when one's misery badly wants some company. And yet at the same time he's not merely a gloomy sod -- there's a great humanity in him too: "...we should be careful of each other, / we should be kind / While there is still time."