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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Otis Tarda And Insomnia

There are many forms of knowledge, a priori, a posteriori, transcendental, expletive, private, public etc. Arguably, all hinge upon the definition of experience, which can be broad or narrow, so knowledge by acquaintance is probably the most philosophically versatile sort. At least that is what I think at the moment, but do I know? Do I look like I do?

Beyond the moment, one may acquaint oneself with facts as they arise. They become part of experience and, where facts are in short supply, one relies upon evidence. Sometimes acquaintances misbehave and there are goings-on. Do I look like someone who holds with goings-on?

Such is the cyclic character of evidence, fact and knowledge gathered according to electrostatic laws under hair. That is all I know about knowledge and it is unsettling. What I don't know about it is equally unsettling but somewhat more interesting. Things that we do not know we know possess the quality of surprise. Do I look like the sort of person who likes surprises?

But yes, I ask unfair questions! How could you or I know what sort of concatenation of strange enthusiasms I look like? More importantly, what do I know that I do not know that I know? It is very late at night but I will attempt a list:

1. I know what a Great Bustard is. I am pretty sure the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock in search of them. They found wild turkeys, which closely resemble Great Bustards, and bagged them with blunderbusses. Blunderbusses were a strange hybrid of shotgun and sousaphone that pretty much destroyed everything that wasn't standing behind them. They were the first dual-purpose instrument to be outlawed both in the forest and parades.

2. I know blunderbusses were prized by hunters with poor eyesight and music-lovers with poor hearing. The mean age of early American Pilgrims was 62 years. That is precisely my age, but modern medicine has come a long way since then. It has clarified pathology and changed human perspective upon it. I now understand these maladies are illusions inflicted by the environment: the world is growing fuzz and mumbling.

3. I know it is past one a.m. and my mentation is clouding, but I will search the Internet for Bustards and put a picture over this post. I have found one! If we expand our definition of experience to include delirium we can claim knowledge by acquaintance with philosophical certainty --and it is reciprocal. I sense these birds are aware of humanity and, except for one vowel, their word for us is identical to ours for them.


  1. More insomnial posts, please! :D

  2. Thanks Austan. I don't always stay up for them but will try.


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