The Gnōmic: Best Served Well Salted
A thought, a quote, a book, an album, and a visit to the archive every Wednesday
Welcome to your midweek read… I’ve called it The Gnōmic, for reasons outlined below, and it includes a thought, a quote, a book, a music album, and a visit to the Sunday Letters archive every week. I hope you enjoy it. (I’m locking The Gnōmic for paid subscribers soon. If you enjoy it, become a supporter with this discount.)
From etymology, *gnō, is the Proto-Indo-European root of gnosis, gnostic, gnomic meaning "full of instructive sayings," 1784, from French gnomique (18c.) and directly from Late Latin gnomicus "concerned with maxims, didactic," "to know." Its g is silent and pronounced as its modern term, know. Therefore, this short communication is a (not so) instructive utterance (writing) aimed at broadening your midweek mental space.
Now, it should be abundantly clear that I use the word as a kind of play on knowledge and not with any degree of seriousness. The extent of that which I call my own knowledge is zero, insofar as other people’s knowledge is not knowledge at all. Experience teaches rather than words. For what is knowledge other than our best assessment of past phenomena? What we don’t know is of greater significance, I think. What we think we know relates to past tense occurrences, and holding on to them merely puts us in harm’s way.
How many times has the foolishness of your own apparent knowledge blinded you to a hole in the road? Plenty I’d say, for those of you prepared to admit it. Better to feel our way around than rely on data exclusively. Knowledge is a snapshot, a photograph; it only serves to represent (re-present) the present for a very short “time”. The more space between that event and now, the greater the chance of error.
Knowledge; best served well salted. And so to the title of this short communication; The Gnōmic.
“Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks. In order to bear it we cannot dispense with palliative measures... There are perhaps three such measures; powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of our misery; substitutive satisfactions, which diminish it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensible to it.” ― Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and Its Discontents
Zen in The Art of Writing is not only about writing; it refers to all creative work. In fact, all work full-stop. This is a short and great read. Buy it.
(P.S. I never include affiliate links in Sunday Letters or The Gnōmic. Just sayin’.)
The first album I’d like to share with you is Goldfrap’s fourth studio album, Seventh Tree. It’s a kind of 3 am after a load of booze or a hungover Saturday afternoon kind of album. It’s one of my favs.
One From The Archive
When I first opened an account on Substack, I made what I now understand to be a mistake by importing content. I wanted to move my entire back catalogue here, but it came over needing a lot of edits. Anyway, it’s here now, and it gives me the opportunity to bring that older stuff to the surface once again. This week we revisit a short piece on why we seem to indulge the pain and discomfort of life.
Thanks for reading… see you Sunday 👋
Thanks for taking the time to read the midweek Gnomic. If you enjoy this content, consider supporting my work. BTW there’s the Sunday Letters Podcast if you’d prefer to listen on your favourite podcast app instead.