Welcome to my first substack post, in which I will discuss what it feels like to know everything.
Sometimes, when I sleep with the windows open, my bed gets damp from the morning fog that rolls through the valley each morning. I don’t mind it. The fog is not a feeling; it’s water, so it makes me feel immersed in my environment in a gooey, tactile sort of way. I woke up at 6 am and sat in my backyard so that I could bottle this fog, then I took a picture of it.
I did this because I felt that to capture the fog is to know it, and I, like you, find it very important to know things. Once I’ve captured it, I can know it. And once I know it, I find it useful to name it, which is why I’ve decided to name this jar: The Knowing.
If I Know things, I can, I hope, transmit to you that I truly do Know things, which will impress and awe you, and comfort and satisfy me. This is not a metaphor. This is a jar of fog, and as I’ve said before, this jar is called: The Knowing.
I really do know The Fog. That should be obvious based on the bottle. I know I should try to describe The Fog to you in more detail, considering this is an essay, but can’t you see the picture, which I took? Have you never felt The Fog? Do you really distrust me so? The Fog that can be told is not the eternal Fog.
Except my fog, of course, which is called: The Knowing.
The Knowing is a word which is equivalent to indisputable, absolute understanding, and if you or I utter this phrase (The Knowing) in each other’s company, we understand that we are in The Club. It is a password, and since you are reading my work, which pleases me, I have given it to you freely. Now, when we meet, we may say this password (The Knowing), and understand that we have studied the ways of the world deeply, and are in complete and utter control of our environment and the universe at large. (Beyond, even!) Like Foucault’s Pendulum, we may circle outward from this central point, and say many things about this or that, honest things, impulsive spurts of sentences that may demonstrate we do not actually understand The Knowing at all, but ultimately, we will each know that we are speaking of The Knowing, having said the password, which is actually just the literal name of The Fog, and nothing else. We will always return to the center. To know the Password is to be in The Club, and it’s a very fine club full of very intelligent Knowers.
From this point on, if we encounter a person who does not know the password (The Knowing), we must judge them with pitied compassion, and assume that they must be sleeping, in the utmost sense, and understand that they have not devoted the same amount of painstaking effort to understand the true essence of the splendid mist. If they protest: “But I have laughed in the sunshine! I have birthed a child, and fallen asleep in a new lover’s arms! I have dipped my fingertips, at midnight, into a starlit pond so that I might touch the moon’s reflection with my palm!” Pat them delicately, and pray that one day they will read The Essay that gives them The Password that grants them access to The Club that describes in Detail what it actually means to Know The Fog.
Of course, sometimes I look at your jar, and wonder if it’s smarter than my jar. Of course, sometimes, The Fog slips out from under the lid, or pools at the bottom, or is gathered more clumsily than I might hope, and I am never satisfied. Yet I do it again, and again, and again. I am pulled to this task subconsciously, consciously, whole-heartedly, like a moth is pulled into the flame-lit hose of a night-duty janitor’s vacuum cleaner.
Occasionally, on rare, empty-headed mornings, I do nothing to The Fog, and I do not think of you at all. I let The Fog roll through the valley, seep through my windows, and settle onto my bed. I let it fall over me in the same way I’d let a mister cool me at an outdoor table at the Olive Garden on a very hot day. These are very nice mornings, such nice mornings, mornings in which it is just me and the unknowable fog, rolling eternally, magnificently, unnamed and unmarked over and through me, until it’s gone.