(countable noun), an “atom of mind”: a core concept in mind studies, self-analysis, practical lifemaking. The word spawns metaphors that may or may not convey understanding themselves: thus a mind is a “colony” or “genealogy” of understandings; knowledge, an arena where externalized understandings live, fight, give birth, die. ■    Newborn understanding, a thing of beauty: it trembles, naked without a shell of communicable form, dies in a puff… unless, always accidentally, manages to crystallize for itself a home — templated off something that happens nearby; thus protected it may persist, interact, travel within and across minds, coevolve with and eventually fossilize in its shell. An average teacher passes down standardized empty shells, a good one manages to convey live understandings — if encased in clumsy ad-lib constructions; one definition of poetry is combinatorializing words — vacant rooms — trying to wake up an understanding soul inside. Keep your understandings alive but — as long as possible — unenhomed: quicken the mind with flocks of nebulous pre-knowings, “quantum foam of the mind”; a related technique (variant of explay) suppresses communicables around a crucial understanding so as to free it — to catch a glimpse of the beating heart before it re-crusts or dissolves. Maturing, an understanding tends to overfathom: grows gradually weary of leaky universality, exhausts its stress differential — dies of accelerating banality.  ■    Lifemaking defines understanding as joy of complexity: when discovered complexity — explicit or hidden, genuine or fancied — feels emotionally positive, you understand it (adequately or not is almost irrelevant). This flavor of joy is contagious, “irresistible”: nothing motivates to work, think, teach like a fresh understanding or feeling that youre on the brink; it is also volatile — the joy expires, leaving but a veneer of satisfaction: understanding solidifies into knowledge (which takes a steady income of new complexity to sustain). Deficit of understanding is pain — its where complexity means difficulty, frustration, arrogance; historically, having conquered physical suffering and moral oppression, we confront the “haze torment” of not-understanding by making our understandings ever more attainable. Low-complexity entities afford little understanding so bring little joy — thats why we remake them into symbols or quasia with layers of implied or imagined complexity: “share in the warmth of understanding with little risk of being wrong.” Even chaos — pure hairtangle, no hidden parameters — can be a source of “complexity-mediated joy akin to understanding.”  ■    The hedonistic understanding-as-joy complements the more traditional notion of understanding as predictability gain; both, however, are sidelined in a school of thought where understanding is systemic reduction or simplification — thus the only buttress against the “chaos rot,” “branching horror,” “entropy masquerading as complexity” thatll crush us if we stop our understanding work for a minute… and hard work it is, none of your self-indulgent joy; worse, true understanding is one that pains — as the second act of the puppet show ought to.

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