Every set of laws describes a system. The extent of each system – all the possible expressions within the scope of its laws – is its domain. Everything within the domain pre-exists, in that it potentially exists within the possible interactions of the laws. These are all the things that can be imagined, and become manifested, if the laws are fully understood.
Even with a small number of laws, due to the combinatorial expansion of possibilities, any domain can seem vast beyond conception, and practically infinite. Certainly we can never cause every possibility to be made manifest.
Without regard to the psychological impact, I define knowledge as awareness, not of pre-existence, but of the actual existence of any particular possibility within a domain. To know a linguistic term, knowledge always relates to a sequential form of the laws.
Everything not embraced by such knowledge is the unknown. There are unknowns whose potential is conceived to exist, and which are proximate to our knowledge, while the rest (the vast majority) is truly unknown, without any relationship to anything but the laws themselves. This sub-domain I will refer to with a capital U, to signify the uncharted depths of the possible, those things which are simply not accessible via any previous experience.
With humanity there enters the fact of needs in an actual world, which are not satisfied with the potentialities of pre-existence. This introduces the idea of relevance, that some sentential forms are more practical to our needs at different times than others.
So humanity becomes, within every system, an explorer searching for anything with a meaning that will add to his life in any way. To this end he is like a miner, delving into an unaccountable mountainside for whatever he may find.
Since the field is so large, man must develop strategies to assist in his search – to keep the future safe and free from error. If one tunnel should produce a motherlode, you will find shrines there a century later, with the entire mountain condemned as “holy ground”, to the frustration of the young.
Bless the young who do not take our histories to much to heart, and who sometimes realize their stewardship of humanity’s continuing awakening. We grow by fits and starts, caught millenially between fascination and fear. The dark is an awful place, but can be awesome as well, if we brave our path to the other side. But who can in good conscience send his child to brave the way? So we hold to our duty, and hold them back, until the point that defiance is the only healthy answer.
Need it be so? Is there a possibility that an inward detachment is possible, in service to a higher good than stability, that will cause us to welcome death, and march steadfastly upon the imagined spears of Come What May? For God, an idea uncaptured by all our current theories, must lie out there somewhere, in the unknown, the unseen, the unexplored. Even our own reality can never be captured by words, though humanity is often captivated by them.
This way, this Straight Path which does not meander like a twisted and tortured river through the history of mankind – I leave its discovery to the reader. What is more within my grasp is to ponder on the nature of this unknown, since i seem to discern its evidences in everything around me.
So, we not only face the unknown, we live beside it, within it. Our visible spectrum is the needle in an unaccountable haystack whose reaches we will never fathom. In the past, after many many years, we stumbled upon many veins of ore within this mountain of our pre-existent domain (it could be any one of innumerable mountains I reference here, examples will be given later). The mountain is so huge, but we know by cognition it must contain wealth. Some dug in random places and found ore, others developed ideas to explain the distribution of ore, but these ideas only appear to work, since successful ones have succeeded more than the failed ones failed (for the simple reason that we stopped trying them right away, whereas we will doggedly pursue a successful idea until by chance or favorable circumstances it is successful again).
These ideas are our strategies, attempts to provide maps based on the minute territory we’ve seen so far. These strategies are quite helpful, they serve us well, because they dramatically increase the chances of our success among such vastness and so many dangers.
But memory and history have a strange way of mythologizing the practical, promoting to a meme what was once perhaps only a suggestion. After that point humanity takes on the shackles of servitude, forgetting completely the old relationship between thinker and thought. As these memes settle, the one who would venture anew again into the mountain must combat tradition, taboo, moral stricture, and every kind of fence which minds make would seem to make perfect sense, but it is a terribly difficult task. Everyone seems to grasp the immensity of the problem, and that random wandering is too often fruitless to the point of despair. How many writers look for completely fresh ideas by striking random words down onto the page? Having a strategy seems the only sane way to bypass an unpredictable decades or centuries of utter failure, without even a derivative benefit to show for it. Who in modern society is willing to accept such an approach, when most generally frown on new explorations of any kind? Like a timid diner, we repeat the restaurants and dishes we know to be safe, or can trust by recommendation. But for one who would try something new beyond relating, new beyond vision – to them history is never a grandmother with happy tales to tell.
Otherwise, excepting the obvious, he would be forced to cast about randomly, hoping for a catch in a sea that is near infinitely larger than the fish it contains.
These rewards those that succeed, and encourage others that come after to try the same route, hoping that with just slight variation they will produce similar results. Of course, the vein runs dry, but this usually dose not strike people as favorably as the memory of success and its rewards. To the extent that we may even bury the former.
When we reach a state of ensuing impoverishment, someone must – by natural inclination or motivated desire – strike out into the territory of the unknown.
To explore the unknown is a place without precedent. It is unknown, foreign, unpredictable. Sanity shies from such a place. We deny even its existence, although it sits next to us at every moment. To anyone who claims such a desire, then you must also wish for death, for its character is the same.
Yet it is also, truly, the undiscovered country. All our future riches and possibilities are there. Soon we will exhaust the present, and must allow the future to come in its wake. Not the “near present”, of which we speak when we imagine that we forsee the future’s course, or at least the general shape of events, but the genuine future, whose content is a mystery until the moment it appears. Even then, it takes all of the moments the present offers us to behold this onrushing future, and be witnesses, without any moment to spare for speculation forward or back.
Unless we experience this intensity of novelty, we are not venturing forth, but reducing mere patterns of the known, further and further, until the experience of time becomes automatic. I mention this evidence of real future to suggest both the difference between “merely not yet seen” and “unknown” and the character that the real future has, which we hold at bay by mapping near futures for ourselves, and trying to pave the way before we reach it. This, to acquire the safety, predictability, security, which the unknown certainly does not possess. Nor the future.
The unknown is always the unexpected, even if it makes complete sense the moment afterwards. The unexpected defies every attempt we can make to “map out the unmapped” before it is reached. This manifestation of the constant unexpected is a proof that we are doing this very thing, of attempting to foreknow the unknown, “to cut its teeth”, so to speak.
The unknown seems not only real, but the real dreamworld of our unconscious fantasy, where all possibilities might come true. It is grand and rich, and horrifying and unspeakable, beyond words to tell (since the system of words is a sub-system of that in which they exist). For anyone with courage, I would think this is where the real part is at.
The unknown. Every hope possible, every fear possible. No more clear decisions, but added dimensions that defy even sight itself. Any mind would go mad here, grasping for air on those few islands of sanity it may (never) find. But the rest of that world is ocean, whose depths challenge our every resolve to dive in.
No wonder our past champions in this field were not uncommonly unhinged. A bit of madness would be needed to open that Door, which it would seem to self-limiting to shut again thereafter. And would they receive any support for having done so, any thanks, any rest after such a mind-wearying journey? No wonder, then, that most died crazy too.
This must actually be a manifest of madness, then, the height of begging for society’s disapproval. In fact, courting the unknown is positively destructive, unforgivable to “society”, though ultimately beneficial to those who live in it. But the current generation cannot see that, as their walls topple, except for the minutest few.
So let us recede for a bit, take a moment from our respectable lives, and look more comprehensively at how such strategies manifest themselves today, in the various systems we find time to relate with. (Show examples in: music, chess, poetry, science, religion, etc.)
This all has the nature of a game, in fact, because we “play” it for its value – its resulting benefit to ourselves and our world, these systems are not life itself, but a way of enriching life. Yet this game, like any game, has the potential to draw us in to the point of losing ourselves, when the completeness of our identification has left us blind to what exists outside that one system. Life is a system for our spirit, that we might find those things which will develop our souls.