Beliefs bear the weight of truths, perhaps because they feel true. But belief is a gamble, an act performed in the face of incomplete certainty. Belief confidently lays its chips on the possibility that what it believes is true. Sometimes it is.
“[T]ruth is what, in the fantasy of hallucination, must be delayed but not denied,” wrote Roland Barthes in his fragmentary collection, A Lover’s Discourse. Before we arrive at the truth (if we ever do), we believe we are heading towards it. In some cases, this is the fantasy of hallucination. In others, we are right all along.
“Rex felt the summer on his young wings and soared happily.” This simple sentence by George Eliot speaks to the exhilaration of belief.
Communication, like belief, involves risks. It takes a leap of faith to try to express, and then another to try (or try not) to comprehend.
Take a poem, which works a kind of magic that is different from that of a sentence (to which another kind of magic belongs). Across lines and stanzas, meaning is made. But what does the poem mean? Or, perhaps more accurately, how does the poem mean?
Smashing fragments together to discover what they hold; listening closely to voices whose intonations betray a desire to disbelieve what they may sense to be true; looking with another at what we think we’ve already seen; experiencing history which we never knew anew…
We hope to know better. We believe we can.