Knowing the Unknowable

I wanted to know the unknowable and my father, the scientist, the professor, could not tell me. My mother could because she read fiction and fantasy. But it was coded so that it appealed to a part of the brain beyond consciousness, so it carried the feeling of being a right answer without any way to articulate it, in the same way that an aroma of gardenias can reach inside you and find its rightful place, its confirmation, and yet remain out of reach of some literal explanation of its effects. The scent of a gardenia is true even if you can’t articulate it. Or, as Edna St. Vincent Millay put it, “It is a thing that exists simply, like a sapphire, like anything roundly beautiful; there is nothing to be done about it.”

— Laurence Gonzales, Surviving Survival, p. 141

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