Tuesday, May 31, 2005

For she was the maker of the song she sang

Yesterday's post might seem to be an affirmation of scientism, the belief that the only things that matter are objective and external.

I do assert that science is the best and perhaps only engine of progress -- material, medical, technological, cosmological -- and the only source of reliable knowledge about the world that transcends accidents of birth and upbringing. But I emphatically believe that subjective and internalized reality is where a life is lived.

Among the posthumously published aphorisms of the poet Wallace Stevens is this:

"We never arrive intellectually. But emotionally we arrive constantly (as in poetry, happiness, high mountains, vistas)."

And again he wrote:

"The world about us would be desolate except for the world within us."

But if we are going to internalize a world, let it be insofar as possible real, and not a tissue of dreams or wishful thinking.