My Pillars: Rilke the Poet (Part 2) The Limits of Love and the Limits of Knowing.

in life •  2 years ago


Isis Veiled, by JA Knapp

The Limits of Love and the Limits of Answers.

Part One

Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties by the translator John Mood is a small collection of the poetry of Rilke's writing on love. Rilke says that love is a difficult thing. To fully understand that concept Mood begins his volume with this quote:

"I tell you that I have a long way to go before I am-- where one begins...
You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Resolve to be always beginning-- to be a beginner!"

Go back and read this part again. I promise it will help.

Rilke starts with an important truth about the nature of inquiry and knowing. I, like Socrates, know that I know only one thing... and that thing is that I know nothing compared to enormity of the knowable. This ‘living everything’ is the seed of my wonder and passionate curiosity. It's the sparkle in my eyes when I come upon a strange puzzle, or the half-smile that lights up my face when I turn a fresh corner to go somewhere I've never been before.

My list of intellectual pursuits is quite long, but should not be read a resume. I'm no expert in each field. Instead it's been a passionate, sometimes short-lived love with each subject.

When I learned of comparative religion, I found love for all gods and love that there are no gods.
When I learned of philosophy I found love for all thoughts and no thoughts.
When I learned of psychology I found myself in love with the mind.
When I learned of mathematics and chemistry I found a love for all things unseen
When I learned of physics I found a love of causality
When I learned of geology I found a love for every rock (and a great desire to know why it was where it was!)
When I learned of biology I found myself falling in love with life itself; when I learned of individual organisms I fell for each of them and the networks that weave them together.
When I learned of ecology I found a love of systems
When I learned anthropology and archaeology I found myself in love of all people living and dead.

Despite all this, I haven't even begun, but I do have a sense that I'm living along into some answers that exist just beyond my ability to communicate them, but assure me of my course.

The love of learning does not come from treating subjects as things to conquer by learning and possess the totality of their knowledge, but rather to treat them as companions in my solitude. I observe them, they brush against me, they excite and inspire, and I want to explore them, learn more about them, see how they interact, share them with others, and sometimes protect them.

Although I value empiricism, it has it's limits...which we will explore in Part 3.
In the meantime, you can enjoy one of Rilke's finest poems here

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I like your posts. Can't think of a specific relevant comment so.... good work gonna cut it for you?

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