Backflips from the Pier of Knowledge
All islands of knowledge, no matter how large, are bordered by an infinite and ineffable ocean. Science is a pier, extending the land so that we might peer down or fish into the water. Scientism is a loudspeaker telling us that one day the pier will cover the ocean. Religion, mass-culture and pornographic art are walls around the edge of the pier with a painting of the ocean on the inside, and a series of tents in which we can buy little plastic bottles of the ocean or pay to slap about in a chlorinated paddling pool. Truth or freedom is a climb straight down to swim. The entrance is illegal — and even unpleasant — to look for, but not actually difficult to find: all you have to do is lift the floorboard you are standing on and fall forty feet into the unknown. You can choose such a fall, or, very often, one is thrust upon you, but if you’d prefer to glide down on a Venusian hang-glider, or make your way into the unknown via the electric ladder of culture, there’s great art and the intimate mysteries of ritual.