Back in Forth

It’s important to keep in mind the difference between idealistic concepts (whole) and workable mental models. I’ve wasted enough time in sad circles of 1000 words, enough energy repeating the same idea over and over seeing no change in what I saw myself thinking I saw. I have never doubted the value of my creativity, but I have severely ignored my faculties of discrimination. The, um, opposite of creativity. Rather than just constantly regurgitating back into the wells of my own dissatisfaction, I’ve decided to play time, to give vertical lines to the ground and see how high I can get by trying.

Somebody told me once that there are always more answers than questions. I didn’t think much of it, other than it sounded untrue and that I’d have to seriously think about it before I accepted the theory. I thought that we were reducing life’s mystery to a matter of spreadsheet cardinality, to mere lines between things there are no lines between. But then the other night as I was falling asleep, I started to think about it seriously. No matter what I did, no matter what rules I applied, there will always be more answers than questions. That’s fine, I felt like I had played with the idea enough to accept it. For now. But why is it so?


To figure this out, I separated the problem into its parts. We have Questions, Answers, and a context of information of two types; known and unknown. Here’s what I arrived at. (nobody reads my blog, but they should feel free to comment anyway)

Questions, we create from what we already know. We make conjectures based on an existing body of information (be it correct or not) and expect, upon following, to learn something we were not already aware of. This something could be new information, or it could be a relation between existing information we had not previously connected. And in the same way that a question originates from existing information, an answer is based in prior unknowing.

This does not mean we ASK a smaller amount of questions, it means that questions themselves are fundamentally fewer; they are more sure of origin. The reason why there will always be more answers than questions is that questions stem infinitely from of a finite pool of resources, whereas answers stem infinitely from the infinite stems of questions. Answers are the response to a call, a choice about a choice. f(f(?)). Reminds me of an essay by Octavio Paz in which he talks about poems and poets.


I’m sure that this has been figured out before, and that I am far behind what some other person has already written on the subject. I’ve spent most of my life in a slew of poetic overstimulation and intellectual laziness, wish I had dug into epistemology earlier because it is such a fascinating field of thought for the cross-disciplinary mind to fuck itself with. Since, according to my field data, self fucking is a necessity. So natural, so satisfying. Epistemology, that is.



Addendum 1

Isomorphically, it could be stated that there will always be more fish than fishhooks. That’s not true, quantitatively, but if “more” is a statement on possibility than yeah dude it totally is (ie, there are more likely fish than fishhooks, ie for every realized fishhook there are potentially many fish, a number of which could be in turn realized). So then, with the original question, are we measuring the quantity of questions vs answers or the situation-specific pool of possible answers vs possible questions? Or did I careen off the path of my brilliant little thought? Dunno. Quantity vs probability. We’re all tangled up in proportion to the whole, unable to escape the system. But why would you want to? Quantum blahblah.

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