Nov 3, 2011
We live in three worlds.
The first world is the world of our direct experience. I consider this the “really real” world; it’s literally where we live. That being said, I consider our dreams an integral part of this world.
The second world is the world of our knowledge. This is both a mediated world—we know it through the stories we hear or the things we watch and read, the media we consume—and a world of conjecture: based on what we’ve learned, we make educated guesses or informed assumptions about how the world works or the existence of those parts we may or may not ever experience.
Finally, there is the world that we will never know through direct experience (imagine a point just adjacent to the center of the earth or the specific thoughts of a stranger we will never meet) or learn about from any mediated source or even imagine to be real.
Freud described the psychoanalytic journey in these terms, “Wo Es war, soll Ich werden.” (“Where Id was, Ego will become.”) Life can be similarly described as a journey by way of which we slowly expand the first two worlds and thus claim more and more of the third.
All imperialistic connotations of this formulation aside, it should humble us. Not only is much of this third world unknowable in principle, perpetually falling beyond our grasp, but we inevitably and inescapably belong to it (in a way that it will never belong to us).