The Everyday (Part 2)

Finishing off some thoughts on the everyday.

The upshot of the always local and ultimately simple nature of all knowledge is that the everyday must itself have a type of knowledge. And it's not an inferior or simpler or dumbed-down form of knowledge, it's the most valuable and profound of all types of knowledge. Creating knowledge that has meaning for the largest number is the ultimate challenge. Not because they're dumb, but because this knowledge will need to somehow resonate with, make useful and valuable connections with, the lives of many, different, people. And this will be knowledge that isn't extracted from an isolated and controlled environment, but from the messiness and complexity of everyday living.

Everyday language and concepts will be the most pregnant with meaning, because so much will be required of them - they will need to weave themselves into so many different lives. This is why, as DH Lawrence noted, the novel is such a powerful form of knowing, because the truths it expresses will normally be woven from everyday lives and experiences. It's far simpler to write a non fiction book expressing with beautiful clarity and neatness the results of some restricted sphere of human activity. That sort of book will look more profound, more abstract, but this will just reflect the smaller group of people involved, with their own little semi-private language and practices.

It's easy to test this, next time you see something that looks complicated and abstract, find out how many people work in or are engaged with that group. I bet it'll be fairly small.


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