[S]cience finds itself enmeshed with social science and the humanities in what researchers call the Gloomy Prospect, the ineffable mystery of why people do what they do.
The prospect may be gloomy for those who seek to understand human behavior, but the flip side is the reminder that each of us is a Luxurious Growth. Our lives are not determined by uniform processes. Instead, human behavior is complex, nonlinear and unpredictable. The Brave New World is far away. Novels and history can still produce insights into human behavior that science can’t match.
This age of tremendous scientific achievement has underlined an ancient philosophic truth — that there are severe limits to what we know and can know; that the best political actions are incremental, respectful toward accumulated practice and more attuned to particular circumstances than universal laws.
In reading these lines this morning, I could not help but think of the seemingly infinite openness that is the basis of Talmud study as I have slowly learned--an openness that does not allow an "anything goes" type of interpretation or implementation, but one that encourages and nurtures creativity and personal initiative.
Within our finite limits and the infinite possibilities that our imaginations and creativity can produce, we are challenged with the task to strive to build and develop an in-depth, heartfelt relationship with Hashem, with Hakadosh Barukh Hu, with God. We are challenged to find the truth of our lives. It is also my profound belief that that play of poetry, at its best, can also help forge and develop this relationship and help develop this truth.
The philosopher David Michael Levin, who I quote it my essay on the poet Charles Olson, compares this more open sense of truth (in contrast to truth as correctness) that only can emerge is the space of this type of openness:
In poetizing discourse, both sound and sense require a theory of truth which understands and appreciates their ‘ecstatic’ play within an open field. In the phonological dimension, there must be a field for the play of sounds: echoes, resonances, overtones and undertones, onomatopeia, polyphony, emotionally evocative sounds. Similarly, in its semantic dimension, the dimension of signifiers, there must be a field for the play of meanings: ambiguities, allusions, metaphors, shades of meaning, adumbrations of what is to come. Truth as correctness, truth represented in the discourse of statements, assertions, propositions, cannot do justice to the interactive processes essential to poetizing discourse. Truth as aletheia can, because it is hermeneutical: it lets sound and sense play in the interplay of presence and absence, identity and difference. To the poetizing process, the process of bringing experience as it takes shape into words that further shape it, aletheia gives a multi-dimensional field in which to unfold. (437)Aletheia is the Greek word for truth that Heidegger defined as "unconcealing" and which in some way to my mind expresses the work of Talmud Torah and the creativity that underlies it.