We perceive the world through a thicket of memory. I see a bird. I remember its genus, its coloration and perhaps one or two other distinguishments. What I cannot recall is how I felt when I first saw this tiny amazement fly into the embrace of a tree. Now I “see through a glass, darkly,” through the dimming filters of time and memory. In other words, I don’t see.
Knowing about is not knowing. I can be an expert on honey without having tasted it. Thus: “Those who know do not speak.” “What do you read, my lord,” asked Polonius. “Words, words, words,” replied Hamlet, meaning nothing of value. Warhol dug into this with his famous rendering of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. Krishnamurti: “The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.” Overheard: “The guy’s a jerk.”
Intuitively, we know very well that we are subject to forces we cannot control and do not understand, and that we’re going to die soon. It’s why we don’t describe ourselves as finished products. It’s also why we squeeze a bit of succour from titles and corner offices.
We’re almost home when we experience good and bad in the same way.
When I was 17, I switched from my first name, Hugh, to my second name, Keith. Not that it matters; we are are not what we are called. Understanding that, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol.