The Greatest Pearl of the Night Sky’s Tribe

Will there ever be a “final language” (I’m thinking in terms of a scientific one) that corresponds perfectly with the TRUTH of what all of reality IS?

And should that language then be held up as “superior” to all other ways of speaking about the world?

Will there ever be, for example, a scientific explanation of LOVE that renders poetry superfluous?

I don’t think so.

We can answer every question ameniable to the scientific method and to reductionism, and we can answer them all to the crack of doom, and we can have a scientific language that mirrors ACCURATELY all of the universe’s history and actions, BUT when we are done there will still be a human need for LANGUAGE NOVELTY, and new ways of talking about the scientifically understood. 

We will still need Antigone, and Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet, and the poetry of Wallace Stevens. We will need these languages even after science has fully deconstructed the biology of love and put it in a syringe.

In other words, insofar as we remain human, we will still need to dream and mythologize, and imaginatively narrate, as well as reason.

We will still need the language of Blake—as well as Newton.

And we will still need to contemplate THE ONTOLOGICAL MYSTERY (the mystery of BEING itself) to spur eros and longing into poetry.

To obliterate the ontological mystery by a stupidly triumphant reductionism is like blowing the moon out of the sky so that you can see the stars better.

Wordsworth put it this way: “We murder to dissect.”

Love cannot be broken into parts—without losing love.

Love doesn’t have parts. 

Love is something directly apprehended, without mediation, and this is its ontological mystery—why it should exist at all.

In other words, love arrives like a god out of nowhere.

You can’t force love.

It just comes—or it doesn’t.

And so you are giving away the greatest pearl of the night sky’s tribe when you become too wedded to scientific deconstruction, and become too contemptuous of the mythological and imaginitive, and reduce things such as love to hormonal reactions and evolutionary biology. 

It’s not an either/or proposition.

You can have both.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to The Greatest Pearl of the Night Sky’s Tribe

  1. You could know know everything possible, yet it would be impossible for there to be *the* standard language for it. Scientists like to make up their own words, but don’t like to use other people’s.

    Summed up nicely by:
    “Scientists would rather share each other’s underwear than use each other’s nomenclature.”
    – Kieth Yamamoto (Biochemist).

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