Monday, November 14, 2011

What I Know


I am not a man of knowledge. What I know is what finds me, not what I pursue. I’m organized in my work — more so, I’d wager, than most. And yet I have no systematic way of learning. In school I was a poor student. But my time there wasn’t wasted, because it was given over entirely to observation. The subjects of that observation included myself, through all kinds of foolishness and mental weather; indeed, I was present even when I tried most not to be, when oblivion called and darkness rimmed my soul. For I was the source of that darkness, just as I am the recipient of what little light I know. I am a dim lamp in a dark room; a candle burning down; and yet the candle smiles, consumed and warmed by what it knows.




What I know will not die with me; what will die will be my way of knowing it, my funny way of arriving at the truth. These lines you read and books I write, if they do survive, will be evidence that I tried. They will show how far I was willing to go, and the limits I placed on my own honesty — my self-made shackles and chains, if you will. And it’s but the rattle of those chains that you hear now. To listen well is to love the silence when I set them down. To love well is to recognize your own.

Image: Illustration from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, by Fritz Eichenberg.


12 comments:

Transcend Designs said...

That was really moving and beautiful...

keep that flicker flickin'...!

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Brad. You too!

Old 333 said...

We are all one truth! Just different, really cool filters. I enjoy your observations, William - always will, until.

William Michaelian said...

As I love your ability to cut to the heart of the matter. Thanks, Peter.

Paul L. Martin said...

How many fantastically talented artists and writers, how many incredibly gifted thinkers, were not good students? Someone should do a study...

Do not underestimate the kid who has this habit of dreaming. In dreams begin responsiblities.

William Michaelian said...

Yes. And what’s perhaps most heartbreaking is the guilt that’s heaped upon these young dreamers in the guise of guidance, when their very presence in the home and classroom is a beautiful opportunity for learning, and a reminder that there are a multitude of ways to see, and to arrive at the abiding truths that serve as touchstones as we go through life. Thanks, Paul.

rahina q.h. said...

powerful words William and apt drawing... the present-ness of artists of all types is a feature that sets them on the outside, looking in on everything, even their own lives... but always on the outside, a position perhaps essential to their survival and detriment. yet what is laid to rest on pages or canvas is perhaps the only true sign of their awareness of all that was around them.

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Rahina. After reading your thoughts here several times, I now wonder what would happen if we substituted the word “inside” for “outside,” which would leave us looking out on everything instead of in. Ah, well, this is the way my mind works — or what’s left of it, anyway. Either way, I nod in agreement.

another blog said...

yes William, it works... it adds another dimension but to be on the inside rather than outside leaves me feeling rather anxious, claustrophobic even....this seems to suggest that i had a choice to remain on the outside or perhaps life taught me to adopt it as a safer option... i think i'll sit on the door step a while;)

William Michaelian said...

Ah. In that case, I hope you won’t mind company, “another blog.”

rahina q.h. said...

William don't know how that came up as 'another blog' but that was me again in response to what you said... yes, it would be good to sit a while... would you like a cup of tea?

William Michaelian said...

I thought it was you, which is why I put quotes around your profile name. Tea? Of course!