A few moments ago, I was looking back through a book for a passage, but I started to think about something else, and I mostly forgot what I was looking for. …mostly… But I had a lingering wordless feeling about what I was looking for, and even writing about this fading feeling intensifies it. By now it has left.


I remember one of the first times I meditated, I became aware of an incessant murmuring behind my mind and I witnessed my own awareness picking up some of the background as recognition of words, like wind blowing mist off the peaks of ocean waves. But the recognition was entirely preconscious… nobody decided to recognize or select. At the time I though “So, this is how an idea pops into my head.”

Thoughts think themselves in this wind over water.


I imagine the opening bars of Eine kleine Nachtmusik: the melody, a sense of the chords, the timbre of the strings, the dark, woody ambience of the space. But my musical imagination is limited. I doubt I could even get pick out the basic rhythm and notes on a piano. Yet, as I recall my experience of hearing my favorite recording of the piece, nothing is missing. If I hear a recording, I know whether I am hearing my familiar one, or some other version. Sometimes I cannot even describe how it differs, but that does not change the fact of the difference, or my ability to detect it.


My mind is full of subtle intellectual feelings. They coax my thought, guide it, and goad it. These feelings, and make my ideas my own. “Here, there is something new.” “This is not ‘lying flat’ yet.” “This is beautiful.” “This is repugnant.”

What should I call these intellectual feelings? Thinking about music and reading Heidegger (with his existental/existentiell distinction), gnossiennes seems right.

By “seems right” I mean a gnossienne signals approval.

A gnossienne can be understood as an experience of tacit intellect.


I feel very much obligated to reconcile these gnossiennes with logic, and to bring them into relationship with the world and with the truth claims of other people.

But just as much, or maybe even more, I feel obligated to reconcile anything that seems logically sound and settled and regarded as true — what requests or demands to be regarded as true — with the silent testimony of gnossiennes. They desire reconciliation, but not at the cost of abnegation, and any argument that seeks to treat them as unreal or false or unworthy of respect will be met with resistence beyond reason — but I will argue this resistence is prereasonable, not unreasonable, and it is rooted in the most radical pluralist faith.


Quietly, implacably gnossiennes force rethought, demand creativity, advocate newer, better truths.

Gnossiennes force me to find new ways to conceptualize, to ask, until they are satisfied with a law-abiding logical answer that accords with available evidence.


And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And when Eli’jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Eli’jah?”

Leave a Reply