Friday, April 17, 2009


"I hate quotations.  Tell me what you know."  --Ralph Waldo Emerson

This got me thinking this morning.  What do I know?

I started to consider the difference between knowing, thinking and feeling.  What follows is not for the faint of heart or those less philosophically inclined.

I was feeling particularly pleased with my last post.  I liked the juxtaposition of the poetry with the pictures.  Just using my intuition it came together with pictures I had taken and a quote I had found.  I post a lot of pictures with quotes.  I like to pair my pictures with quotes because the words seem more eloquent or beautiful than something I can write myself.  I tend towards intellectualizing when I write.  It's more difficult to write poetically.  It's easier for me to write documents than to write fiction.  I know this about myself.  After I read Emerson's opinion I wondered if I should not use quotations, should I write only my own thoughts in my own words.  Hmmmm.....

I consulted Wiktionary.

To know:  to be certain or sure about, to understand a subject, to be informed about

To think:  ponder, to communicate to oneself in one's mind, to conceive of something, to be of the opinion, to guess, to reckon, to consider, judge, regard

To feel:  to experience an emotion or mental state about, to become aware of, to receive information through the senses

Well, I have read many things that people have written about with great certainty. They believe they are absolutely right about something but sometimes I don't agree with them at all.   I ponder things and communicate with myself in my mind all the time!  This is actually kind of amusing. It's ego and ego likes to be certain and sure about everything.  Usually there's the judgment that comes into play when we are certain that we are right because that means other people are wrong. In our world of dualistic thinking (politics and religion come to mind),  I have infinite opportunities to practice acceptance of the many different ways there are of thinking, knowing and feeling.

So, as I do daily, I went out to feed the animals. I thought about what Emerson had to say, and about my blogging, and about knowing, thoughts and feelings. This is what I came up with:

I love my family, my friends and animals.  I love nature, beauty and creativity, the arts.  Life is very fragile.  I am getting older one day at a time.

I believe the sun will continue to rise in my lifetime.  I understand that eventually the sun will burn itself out and the earth will die and I will be long gone.  This is based on what scientists tell me.  I wouldn't know much about anything if I didn't read what other people think or know or feel.

What I believe, what I think is knowledge, may not be true for someone else. I know it's all in my mind. The bottom line is that I don't know much but I think a lot and I have many feelings. Does anybody really care?  Is anyone else getting a headache?

In her fabulous blog Courtney Clark wrote a post titled Me in the Center.  She raised the question of narcissism in blogging.  Aren't we all just a little bit narcissistic?  Isn't that a part of why we blog? Do I think I have something important to share?  Sometimes.  Do I know anything?  Not really.  Does Emerson?  Who was he to shake up my day?  Does it matter if I quote other people?

So I ask you, dear bloggers, what do you know, think or feel?  Would you like to share?   

P.S.  I know this took me over an hour to write and now I will be late for work.


Janie said...

I think you communicate the things you love and care about, Mountain Mama, whether you use quotes and photos, or your own words to express yourself. I don't see anything wrong with using a quote that expresses your feelings. And you choose such eloquent quotes, I think your readers enjoy seeing them.
Are we narcissistic as bloggers? Well...yeah, I guess it's narcissistic to think someone cares what we have to say. But blogging is just a way to make internet friends, isn't it? Is it narcissistic to want to make friends or to think a stranger might want to become a friend?
If so, we're all guilty, bloggers or not.

EcoRover said...

Given Emerson's kind of weird historical placement as a neo-Kantian transcendentalist who inspired a generation of pragmatists, it's a big challenge to define the "know" in "tell me what you know."

Does he mean that you should tell us the transcendental meaning of our relationship to companion animals (see Donna Haraway's wonderful essays on this topic), or tell us about the intimate details of what we feed our animals, how we feed them, the look of a horse about to dip its nose in a bucket of oats, the "knowing" of feeding twice or once a day, etc?

Thank you for the few contemplative moments that opened up a quiet space in a busy day.

CountryDreaming said...

Wow Mountain Mama, you had to go and post this on the same day when I posted a photo/quotation combination, didn't you? * friendly grin *

To my mind, there can be a certain satisfaction in pairing word to picture ... Sometimes when you find a quote that perfectly matches a photo you took, it feels like you've discovered a kindred spirit who has leapt across time and space to share, clarify, or even inspire an insight.

pictureeachday said...

Hmm.. this is quite a bit to think about. I think I'll be digesting it for a while longer. On the thinking vs knowing front.. I think my training as a mathematician may be a hindrance to me, since in math we only know what we can prove, and let's face it - in most other fields you simply can't prove anything.. not in the same sense, at least. So in most aspects of Life, I feel like I know nothing ;)

Anyway, for what it's worth, I like your previous post, and I think there's something valuable in being able to borrow someone else's words when we feel they describe our own feelings more accurately than we were able to convey. Plus I think your juxtaposition of the poetry & photos is an embellishment and your own interpretation of the poem. It is telling us what you think (of the poem). :)

Robert V. Sobczak said...

I think we are overloaded with more quotes than ever in the internet age. They used to be quaint ... now they are over exposed.

Esther Garvi said...

I "knew" much more when I was younger, or so I thought. I lost much of my prior wisdom when my mom sick and my life grid changed. Today, I know less but I see more. My heart speaks in words I can't always translate, which is fine. My life is rich. There are so many things I love and enjoy. If there is one thing I've learned, it's to take responsibility of yourself. Take a look at your own life. Look at what you have, and not at what you haven't. Take the moment and breathe. You'll be surprised how much you see, how many possibilities are really there, how much life quality there is in the details that surrounds you. Sometimes when I look at mankind, I'm saddened by our inability to enjoy what we have before us. We get stuck on what we want, rather than what we have, but as fiction-writing goes: Happy People Do Not Make Good Stories.

I'm not sure we blog because we are narcissistic or in need of recognition. I started blogging because I wanted to share my corner of the world with my friends with this new tool that everyone was talking about. It ended up being one of those things I thoroughly enjoyed, for the reasons Janie specified (the socializing) and as long as I have a story to tell and a corner of the world to let others discover, blogging has turned out to be both meaningful and fun.

As for using quotes, I've always enjoyed your take on pictures. They may not be your words to begin with, but the quotes you've used have always been words that have expressed whatever what going on in your heart. And every time you put together a particular quote with a particular photo, you do something unique, a link that originated from you.

Here's another blog you might be interested in. It's a girl my age, who blogs in a similar way as you on the other side of West Africa:

Warm greetings from Africa!!

Tess said...

I think blogging can seem a little narcissistic. But, I personally love reading about other people's lives. In fact, how much I feel I know about the main character and if I can understand them is usually my gauge for how much I like a book or movie and why shouldn't a blog be the same? However, I think the meaning of narcissism is more of a love of yourself at the expense of others. Because, obviously everyone is (or should be!) interested in themselves. Like when you're talking to someone and they keep blabbing on and on and on and you can't escape or get a work in edgewise. Blogging is different, since of course the reader can leave anytime they please.

I like your quotes and pictures, and I agree with others who pointed out that the picture you choose to pair with a quote does show what you think. I like your introspective blogs too, like this one. :)