Reductionism, the Ontological Mystery, and Joni Mitchell

What do we really know about clouds and rainbows, let alone love and free will? To speak of them, scientifically or otherwise (including poetically), is like using chopsticks to drink the ocean. Our instruments seem inadequate to the scale of our task, and somehow our speaking is (paradoxically) a diminishment. And yet still we speak. And speak again. We must.

And we must fail.

This is why the wide (and often contradictory) varieties of scientific, philosophical, religious, and poetic languages in the world are unlikely ever to wholly die in the human heart, or experience a mass extinction with only one or a few “reality based” languages victorious (the survivors of some great future dying off of “bad ideas”). Languages, like species, are historically contingent and function in niches. They address the ontological mystery from innumerable vantages, but do not contain it. To echo Whitman, the mystery of being is large, it contains multitudes (as do we).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Reductionism, the Ontological Mystery, and Joni Mitchell

  1. Marilyn says:

    i didnt find a leave a comment for previous section, but it looks awful…why/

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