Belief + Doubt = Sanity


If I ever am banished, send me to a hell of text. Make the walls of my dungeon covered with words. Make them black and white and red, in sans serif and on vinyl, like this environment of Barbara Kruger in Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum. Make them whispered correspondences, like Baudelaire’s resonances of senses which speak to each other.

It would be just like our world, after all – worlds of text surrounding us, talking to each other.  A familiar mix of multiple voices and contradiction. A place where language intertwines and talks to each other.

You just have to find a place to stand and be quiet and attentively listen, like a poet.

Of course people will be shouting, some with self-righteous certitude.  I’d be comforted to float in the ether of “real belief” that Kruger’s proposes: “Belief + Doubt= Sanity.”   For real belief, it seems, always contains an element of doubt. Certainty is not spiritual belief – it doesn’t leave room for the unknown, the mysterious, the other. Certitude is a closed system.

To turn Kruger around: Too much ideological purity is making the world insane.

Here are some of Kruger’s open questions which, interestingly enough, echo Biblical language:

Who is beyond the law? How is Free to Choose? Who Speaks? WHo is Silent?

Who is housed? Who wins? Who loses? Who prays the loudest? Look for the moment when Pride becomes contempt.

It wouldn’t be a Kruger installation without droll aphorisms like this: It’s a small world but not if you have to clean it.

I would add a few more:

If you think YOU KNOW, YOU’RE WRONG.

Grasping the Truth too hard makes it disappear from your hand.

Stop Pretending.


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3 Responses to Belief + Doubt = Sanity

  1. Tom D'Evelyn says:

    A standup performance in behalf of humanity! Bravo!

  2. Tom D'Evelyn says:

    Humanity is an idea/ideal of the Englightenment! It isn’t “real” in the objective sense. That’s why it is good to lay one’s metaphysical cards on the table and speak to the “self” that your metaphysics speaks to, if any. Otherwise witnessing is just what good TV journalists do.

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