Cognac is on a high hill, from where vineyards and small villages roll into the far distance, ending only when they meet the big sky, decorated today with white puffy clouds. Beautiful chateaux take their color cue from the sky, with white plastered walls and pale blue shutters. I would like to inherit just such a chateaux from a forgotten lover (aunt or uncle is so boring). Chances are very slim, but it would be nice. In the town of Cognac, the color scheme is muted. The shutters are in clear neutral shades that almost, but don’t quite, blend into the pale stone walls. The subtle harmony of shades is reflected in the pale blossoms of a single peach tree. The streets are silent. I still have not worked out exactly when the French siesta takes place, and am happy to have had the foresight to buy lunch at breakfast time.
Just outside Cognac, I find a field of daisies and marigolds on a small rise. From this small elevation, I experience a little out-of-body moment (or it could be the unaccustomed wine at lunchtime) as my mind’s eye sees across the Eurasian continent, over mountains, lakes and inland seas, past ancient cities, and through naked earth deserts. The thin pink line of my journey wobbles around the curvature of the earth. I have seen so much, experienced new things every minute of the day. This year has been the longest of my life, and yet my knowledge? That is still only as broad as the road on which I traveled. A few meters to the left or right, knowledge once again sinks into the desert sand.
How innocent were the men of the Renaissance to believe they could know everything there is to know. To learn is not to get closer to fulfilled knowledge, but further and further away. It is like flying straight up into the air, allowing the horizon of knowledge to expand and expand, until today’s point of view simply vanishes in the great unknown. I am not sure if this thought is exhilarating or immensely depressing. What we believe today to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, could be nothing but mist before the sun.
Not only does knowledge never stop, but it is like the view from high in space, a multidimensional thing, which continually expands into new directions, new dimensions, leading to new knowledge. We control which knowledge is revealed to us by the questions we ask. The unfortunate thing about this is that we continue to ask questions about things we know. We believe that what we know, is the only knowledge that can be known, and all new knowledge must lead from that.
The only question to ask is, are we asking the right questions? Or worse, do we even possess the right knowledge to start asking the right questions.