The Contingent Universe

What can be said about a thing? A woman walks down the street and a young man sees her and his impression of her causes arousal. The young man’s companion, another woman, experiences a mild sense of envy and displeasure.  Another man, her former lover, upon seeing her, feels a sudden pang in the heart. The little dog she is walking understands she is the master. He feels pride and loyalty toward her. The homeless man sees nothing but wickedness. What can be said about this woman?

When we try to define something, it slips away like sand from a cage. Each thing is contingent upon something else — the environment, time, the senses, memory, anatomy, proportion. A man is tall in relation to a certain percentage of others who are not as tall. Symmetry is contingent on the other half.   An apple helps a starving man cling to life and causes indigestion in another.

Many things are good or bad also according to measure. Water, for example, is basic for human survival but, too much at one time can send the body into a state of shock, possibly death.  A little alcohol can enliven the mind; too much and the mind will fall into a stupor.

Also, the attributes of things are contingent on their duration. Too much sun will burn. Too much sleeping will make you drowsy. Too much sex will make you insensitive.

Walk twenty miles and then stop. Take off your boots. Now, peel off the wet socks. The sensation is absolute pleasure! And yet, what pleasure is there unless first you had walked the twenty miles?

What can be said about a thing? It all depends. Therefore, the horizontologist does not seek rigid belief systems. Rather, the horizontologist opens to the world of flux.

A little girl handed me a piece of paper. I think she was six or seven years old. “I just wrote my first song!” I looked at the paper which had little notes lined up in a row and a title : “What Do We Know?”

“Yes”, I said to her, “what do we know?”

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