The skeptic viewpoint seems to point to a way of life where you do not interpret things. They make impressions on the soul, but you do not react by interpreting them.

I think this is not quite right. While it is true that the sweetness of the honey is truth enough for life in general, occasionally something happens that seems unusually significant. My belief is that in those times, such as a death or birth in the family, the event should be interpreted very carefully.

Sometimes, you decide to know, not for any other reason than the impression your soul gives you is that you ought to know. Now, when this happens, deciding to know has to be thought about carefully. For example, say you are cooking dinner for the people at a baby shower. You like some of the people coming and you don’t like others. So you cook a different dish according to who will eat it. It being a momentous occasion it appears to your soul that you ought to interpret what these foods mean, so you decide “the food for the people I don’t like will make them fat” and “the food for the people I do like will warm their heart and give them strength and courage” Now, the danger, as is always the danger when you decide to know something rashly, is that these decisions or interpretations get misused. The people you like eat the food they’re not supposed to eat; same for the people you don’t like. The invention of gasoline got misused, coal powerplants got misused, social constructivism got misused. That is why it seems to the skeptic its better not to decide.

I would differ in saying that deciding on an issue should be done with the utmost care. The example above is less momentous than an actual birth or death. As for my children and the death of my father, I have decided on certain meanings, but it took years of careful thought, and I am still revising my thoughts on what their births/deaths mean, to say nothing about their lives, which is a problem that seems to big to even begin working on, but I have begun. Life is a moving target, that is why it is so precious. If we could really know what it meant, it would signal our death.

This was how I learned I didn’t need a PhD. I remember vividly my advisor giving me permission to interpret, as if that were not something normally done by people. He said “You can interpret” a few times in succession, and it made me angry, but I didn’t show it. Of course I can interpret. I don’t need someone with a PhD to give me permission, and neither does anyone else. This person, who is in a powerful position as an academic disseminating ideas on how to teach physics to students, seems to believe otherwise.

But then sometimes I meet people who have been in love with the English language a long time, and they have entered into some kind of language-game, where each little word “OK” “Right” “See you later” has a fixed interpretation, as if the person doesn’t get to decide what they mean. This is another way that skepticism serves regular people, to help them escape the English language-games, which… how do I say except to quote George Orwell “English is in a bad way” Its not a language to play a language game with.  And if you think poetry is dead, it is simply because English is dead (or mathematics) for you. We need English poets to revive the remains.

As for an action plan, do not seek momentous occasions: wait for them, listen for them, and then, as the impression is such that knowing is required, carefully interpret so it does no harm. How momentous an occasion is depends on the wisdom of interpreter.

I imagine as we approach death smaller and smaller, seemingly mundane events will seem more and more momentous.

Death does not speak true

Who, dreaming, says so others can hear,
“I am dreaming”

And someone, dreaming, says only to herself
“It is raining”
When it is raining
(out?).

She does not speak true

Even if her dreams were connected
With the noise of the rain.

And not knowing when I was in a dream, if I were to die
How could the manner of my death speak something true?
Would my death awaken something somewhere:
My daughter would look on my death and think
“He died dreaming”
“He spoke as he died, ‘I am dreaming’”

“Dying, he dreamed something true”

And if dreams speak true, are they a figment of the living?
What dreams in death, after the momentous death, could speak as finally a word,
Even in peace,
Mean as finally a meaning?

What if these were my last words?

“A Defense of Poetry Against the Mathematicians” (2019) ISBN 1688505717

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