:: Article

Erkenntnis, Undings and the Grape

or, A Parabolic Translation of Paracelsus, as lifted from the introduction to Die Kunst des Liebens.

By Lital Khaikin.

Hands and Grapes

National Gallery of Art, Alfred Stieglitz Collection

Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes.
— Paracelsus as quoted in the English translation of The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Wer nichts weiß, liebt nichts.
Wer nichts tun kann, versteht nichts.
Wer nichts versteht, ist nichts wert.
Aber wer versteht,
der liebt, bemerkt und sieht auch.
Je mehr Erkenntnis einem Ding innewohnt
desto größer, ist die Liebe…
Wer meint, alle Früchte
würden gleichzeitig mit dein Erdbeeren reif,
versteht nichts von den Trauben.

Where there is no light—there is no love.
Where there is no truth—there is no understanding.
Where there is no understanding, there is naught to hold dear.
But where there is awareness, love is apparent, revealing of itself.
The greater the recognition of the essential, the greater the love.
Where conviction gives fruit—a simultaneous becoming—a berry ripening
—worth derives not from the multiplicity.


To give things over to song that is led astray from its origin. This is a way of learning to speak, and a way to begin again—

With the testing movement of lips, these words take on unusual forms, all new—taken from another mouth. The idea of their sounds guides my tongue over unfamiliar space, stumbling against small silences. It begins with weiß. Where light is. White is the release of everything that may be contained. It indicates presence, and the permission to look. Everything that appears is a way to write a when around an encounter.

Already too slow, is light, our seeing. Our seeing understood as such only after its happening—versteht wegen ehemalig Anwesenheit—feindlich auf Entfernung. Such a way to know, relying on the having-lost—for every word we give to one another is a cenotaph, and everything that formed its need is obsolete by the time its proof arrives. This is our language. Weggang befindlicht in die Quelle—also the Departure, a way to trace each other back to something vital, leading to the dim beginning of things—the old adage of light as knowledge—empty, empty, containing nothing—

But what space it fills.
After all these things.

Slowness must be necessary, to reconcile with that deceptive quality, which is at once—Aussicht auf der Schatten—that inverse of reflection, which is the habit of making the interior visible. Not pressure or gesture, but the non-action [Ma]—nur (only, just)—Nur—ور ن—weiß, light, again. Innert der Nähe jener ist unter die Motive auf Leere und Lehre—uncover a theory of silence.

A science of being,
as it contains, already—
the first mention of Erkenntnis.
And its lessening.

Truth is not of the word—Lieben, worein, von die wert zu träumen—which is a confusion in the particulars, of what is priceless and what is worthless—that it is at least as important to hold as it is to accumulate absence.

To hold, dear. Yes, this certain cruelty.
How deep a fear has grown into the muscle which knows only to endure
release. And so, liebe—to hold, and not to have. This is to know—

To reveal the essential, and become
many times. Orienting to being.
That is, the wisdom of fruit.
All things taking time.

nicht die wert das kommt aus der Vielzahl—that is, the conviction that things are somehow making more out of themselves. Trauben, cluster of grapes. Träumerei—which is also a kind of preparation for waking, a remembering that there is an imminent way to be outside of things. Each dream is a grape, emerging from a stem. Sometimes you stay, sometimes the dream stays. In the habit of days and nights, our desires rush towards this fruitfulness—of the things that are fruitful.

To be, ohne—
one may be situated alone.
But this is—

Ding—unit, one—quantified / qualified—the particular—the grape
The essential is through reduction—by itself: allein—all in
(Punkt)—je mehr light and truth and nichts

—this is the despair of making a world out of the Dings, Nichtdings, a revolution out of der Unding und Ding. This is the despair.

How light is knowledge and nothing—the elegant complexity of a berry forming from a blossom—die Blüte aus der Blut, und die Erinnerung von der Aderlass—bloodletting, that does not require that we make more of its simple presence. Another way of loss—this is a simultaneous becoming—würden gleichzeitig. But how drunk we got on the flavour of abundance.

Speak with me, then, of knowledge as the way things are.
How are they, really?
As if they are.

Each ‘thing’ is an interlude, a transgression on constancy. In a flurry of difference—translucent and impermeable—these things that wear themselves outside in, deflect our attention from the instant—a diversion from the revealing of things as they are in the enchanting process of the present. Each physical thing interjects—less a statement than a pause that preludes a voice, a gentle hmmm that casts its bridge between the formation and crumbling of thought. That we could learn to be in the between, relieved of being our own end, moving lightly, instead, saying: look, here—or, perhaps, here.

When we speak more, we’ll say we stumbled into truth on pathways that have abandoned their directions and are since disintegrating—as if by accident—as if we really fall for our pretending that things, material evidence of something happening outside our bodies, still contain themselves. That we are still ourselves, after all these things. We’ll say that when we held everything and nothing against our words, we saw that their meanings are an arm that could be twisted red. So we hold them close after they have given everything.

Our present art is of finding meaning in these articulations. How do we make do with these belated readings?

Oder, wie man versteht, ungeahtet die Erstarrung von dies Erkenntnis—vernehmen, dafür, gleichzeitig auf erfahren dies Klangfülle von die Altenzeit, geschrieben aus der völlig Leere. For when the presence of something indicates equally to an absence—Vorspiel, prescient: towards Lebewohl—in this net, there is no place for emptiness—noch für der Unwichtigkeit—nor for the delirium of permanence—

This is the conviction that justifies being here, for at least this moment. To
give things over into lightness.

And in the meantime, we have already moved quite far.


Lital Khaikin

Lital Khaikin has published poetry in .PLINTH., gobbet, Deluge, Berfrois, Tarpaulin Sky, e·ratio and VERStype. A book, Outplace, is forthcoming from Solar Luxuriance. Excerpts from a flight of objects that seemed real are forthcoming from Compound Press. She is an editor at continent. journal.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, June 7th, 2016.