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This report is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.

Talking to One's Intellectual Superiors Frank Kuppner

Listen, young man. It’s fairly simple, is it not? For some reason, as you so rightly say in your latest essay, we often or usually don’t quite feel at home in reality. But mightn’t this be largely because we are forever having to deal with reality via our necessarily simplifying mental epitomes and abstractions? You know? Indeed, can we possibly think of human culture, politics and so forth at all – never mind the Universe as a whole, if you don’t mind – and not deal in (usually immense) over-simplifications? They’re always likely, are they not, to be to some extent inaccurate, or at least never the whole story. No? (What map could ever be the whole story?) And the more complex what we are aware of becomes – so much of its complexity have we reluctantly learned to recognise! – the less we are at liberty to deal with it in an unmediated way. No?

[Hmm. Is that perhaps why, Doctor, so many of us feel we simply must have a more secure home ‘elsewhere’?]

Good question, yes. Lovely question, Vince. But in what imagined location is any such actual place supposed to be found? Eh? As if a complete unchanging inertness could be the only real thing! Go on. Just name me a real place, will you? – somewhere known to be an actual co-ordinated position – rather than a golden emotional daydream which exists and which can exist only in shimmering, shivering ...


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