Preface: Insight Incomplete

insight_incompleteIt is, of course, much easier to think something than to write it.  The speed and fullness of thoughts makes it much easier to consider ideas as they are – nonlinear and without form.  They are whole.  Whatever a thought lacks, it is unified.  In a word, elemental.  It cannot be pulled apart.  And yet, we must break these thoughts down if we are to record them.  But thoughts exist as inextricable amalgamations of vast and varied sensations along with all prior meditation.  Thoughts are many things at once.  On account of their complexity, there is no way to relay these thoughts, so we settle for representing them.  They must take another form, so we use words as standins, understudies that act in place of our thoughts.

It is no small task to represent something so fluid and fleeting.  To give structure and shape to something that is eternal and amorphous.  To break down down the molecules of something so unified with a method is that is sequential and segmented.  As sentences are a representation rather than a replication of an idea or state of mind, it is often a challenge to reveal our thoughts without distorting meaning.  They flood the brain in an instant, but we cannot comprehend them all at once, so language encapsulates our thoughts, making them easier to swallow and digest.  Eventually, words become substitutes, taking the place of our thoughts, albeit a corrupted version.  In this lies the great challenge of language, as each word is representative of something slightly different to every person, and is always understood from a necessarily unique perspective.

Obviously there is value in writing things down, or one would bother with it, but this value extends far beyond that of a simple record.  Of course, it is good to jot down some fleeting thought.  It will soon recede into the dark corners of the mind, or be lost altogether before it can be developed.  More importantly, words and sentences act as a test for the things we think in much the same way as strokes and sketches are checked against the things we see.  Writing can illuminate conflict and inconsistency, revealing flaws and failings in our fleeting ideas.  When you mobilize an idea through language, you achieve a much better sense of its effectiveness, whether sound and strong or weak and malnourished.  To write words down is to train and to test them, rehearsing and refining them until they are ready to do battle with other concepts.