R. D. Laing, Knots (1970)


There is something I don’t know
that I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is that I don’t know,
and yet am supposed to know,
and I feel I look stupid
if I seem both not to know it
and not to know what it is I don’t know.
Therefore I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-racking
since I don’t know what I must pretend to know.
Therefore I pretend to know everything.

I feel you know what I am supposed to know
but you can’t tell me what it is
because you don’t know that I don’t know what it is.

You may know what I don’t know, but not
that I don’t know it,
and I can’t tell you. So you will have to tell me everything.

R.D. Laing: Wikipedia, Knots, another excerpt of Knots

See also Gregory Bateson’s double bind theory (Wikipedia; article)

When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.

Niels Bohr 

In his first meeting with Werner Heisenberg in early summer 1920, in response to questions on the nature of language, as reported in Discussions about Language (1933); quoted in Defense Implications of International Indeterminacy (1972) by Robert J. Pranger, p. 11, and Theorizing Modernism : Essays in Critical Theory (1993) by Steve Giles, p. 28


For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Quote in context: 

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

— Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,”  Leaves of Grass (1891)


Did you know that the phrase “and sing myself” didn’t appear in the 1855 version?