The Art of Knowledge

Recent comments reminded me of a story I may have posted in the comments here once.  Specifically comments like Mike’s,  “The young composer only gains a real appreciation of the great composers by trying to compose something himself. ”  He went on to point out that we can have some notion of how things look different from a different perspective.

So here is that short story drawn along the same lines.

Once upon a time there was an Artist who could draw other artists into his pictures, some to draw some things for him and even some who could draw things for themselves too. So he drew an apprentice in his own image and his new student asked him about a piece of art that he was working on, “What is it going to be?”

“It’s a picture about good and evil, right and wrong.”

“But how can you draw a picture about wrong that is right?”

“Whatever I draw is right, even that which I let look wrong to those I draw to observe it so. It’s something in the lighting and my drawing, you see. Keep observing, I will not explain further until the picture is complete…. Come close little one, so that I may ask you a question. Now, why do you suppose I would draw you here to ask me annoying questions when I’m trying to work?”

“Well, I suppose…I, uh, eh, I don’t know why! Well it seems to me that you must know all about your own art. Say, why don’t you just draw me to stop it? Huh?”

The Artist turned to look at the little fellow staring up at him from his side, sighed, then said, “What you’re drawing me to do is going to hurt you more than it hurts me.”

“Uh, wait a minute…” the little fellow looked back at the painting, “I suppose I can wait until the picture is complete.”

“Very well, and besides the answer does not exist yet in any form that you can understand. You see, I’ve not drawn you to understand it yet. But perhaps you can think of it in this way as I work for now… making a picture about good and evil consists of drawing the line someplace.” As the artist spoke he drew a line and as he did some of the little forms that he had drawn into his picture murmured among themselves, “Why are things this way, rather than that? I can think of things my way and want them to be so, so why should they not be my way? Why?!”

This caused the student to comment, “Say, they are a little like me in that way! A rather likable likeness if I do say so myself… So I suppose their next question about what will be, will be why don’t you just take their will away?”

“Only I know, as I know all of my own art. Yet I would think that some of the answers about the will would be rather obvious, if you will.”

“It seems an odd decision to me.”

“Yes, I knew you would say that.”

“Ah, but what if I knew you knew? See how my knowledge increases to approach your own!”

The Master Artist just glanced at the little fellow and kept working on the picture. So his student asked, “Well…can you draw me to have some of your knowledge?” and the Artist answered, “For now you do not even have the symbols, imagery in your head or the forms of thought necessary to think many of my thoughts, so some of the best truths about my art and this picture will remain ineffable and paradoxical to you. That is my will. If you are willing to learn how my will must be done in all of my pictures then I will naturally draw you to have more knowledge of my nature.”

“Naturally….yes, that seems logical to me.”

“Yes, of course, I knew it would. After all, I just drew you to think so.” The little fellow just sighed at that, and thought that he might have heard the Artist chuckle as he did.

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